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In January, the African Development Bank (AfDB) released the African Economic Outlook 2020, its annual publication that reviews Africa’s growth performance. This year’s edition includes a special section on workforce development in Africa. According to AfDB estimates, the region grew at 3.4 percent in 2019 and is expected to grow at 3.9 percent in 2020. Growth in 2019 was about the same as the year before. Africa’s five largest economies (Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, and South Africa) have dragged down region-wide growth as they expanded by 3.1 percent compared to 4 percent for the rest of Africa. East Africa was the fastest-growing region with 5 percent growth.

The effect of government spending on education in Africa is mixed

The report highlights the education and skills needed for the future and how governments can finance investments in education. Currently, African governments spend about 5 percent of GDP on education, which is the second highest of any region. Notably, almost half of all African countries are meeting both of the recommended education financing targets set by the United Nations (Figure 1). The effect of government spending on education in Africa is mixed: Higher absolute spending is positively correlated with average years of schooling but has no relationship with test scores (a proxy for education quality).

Figure 1. While many African countries met at least one of the two education financing targets, only 46 percent met both targets,…

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