West Africa’s population is set to grow by 21% by 2030, reaching 490 million people. We’ve already touched on how this will affect a number of different sectors and open up investment opportunities. But let’s get into the detail on how this will impact the education sector. 

ABiQ’s unique and detailed forecasting estimates that West Africa will have 191 million children of school-going age by 2030. That’s 96 million more than what’s in the education system today.  

We’ve also estimated that across the 17 countries making up West Africa, they will collectively need an investment of US $768 billion to construct 96,000 schools. This is based on the UNESCO reference of a 1:40 teacher to pupil ratio. 

If we then look at the cost of teacher training, current estimates in developed countries put this cost at around US $30,000 – 40,000 for one teacher alone. Based on our forecasting, we predict that West Africa will need an additional 2.4 million teachers by 2030. The cost to train these teachers could sit at an extraordinary US $72 billion minimum, based on these calculations. This is also assuming that the current teaching staff don’t change careers, retire or exit the education sector. 

Nigeria 

If we look at Nigeria’s education budget approved for 2020, at a federal level, it is just more than US $1.8 billion. This is fractionally more than 7% of the total 2020 budget and significantly lower than the 15-20% of the total budget as recommended by UNESCO. As the largest economy in West Africa by far, this falls far short of what is required to support and progress education in Africa’s most populous country.  

Ghana 

Now let’s think about Ghana, the second-largest economy in West Africa. It has an approved education budget of US $2.3 billion for 2020. To put the numbers into context, Ghana’s population sits at 31 million and Nigeria’s is over 206 million. Ghana has included the construction of 962 secondary schools to increase student enrolment as part of its free secondary-high-school programme in the 2020 education budget. It has also allowed for 20 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) training facilities to be built across the country. 

Cotè D’Ivoire 

With the third-largest population in West AfricaCotè D’Ivoire also has the third-largest economy with a 2018 GDP of US $43 billion. ABiQ estimates the population will reach 36 million by 2030 with 8.5 million children in primary and secondary ages. By comparison, Cotè D’Ivoire will spend just over 18% of the government budget on education in 2020.  

It’s an ongoing discussion that Africa, in general, lacks a skilled workforce, but West Africa specifically suffers more than other regions to build and develop its economies. 

There are some huge numbers mentioned. But this tells us there are opportunities, openings and the need for investment to support the growth and development of West Africa alone. 

This support won’t just come from governmental drives, it will come from knowledge obtained in developed countries, investment from those looking to support West Africa’s education system and the implementation of a successful educational programme, sooner rather than later.  

You might also like to read Health and education growth in South Africa

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