East Africa embraces Skills Centers of Excellence approach to achieve productive employment

East Africa embraces Skills Centers of Excellence approach to achieve productive employment

Nairobi, June 05, 2018 – The third appraisal workshop for the East Africa Skills for Transformation and Regional Integration Project (EASTRIP) has opened at the Tamarind Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya. EASTRIP is an initiative of African governments and the World Bank initially involving the three East African countries of Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania. In East Africa, shortage of specialized technical and vocational education and training (TVET) skills is particularly acute in transport, energy, manufacturing, including agro-processing, and ICT. The project’s development objective is to increase the accessand improve the quality of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) programs in selected Regional TVET Centers of Excellence to support socio-economic transformation and regional integration.

Based on the principles of government nomination and competitive selection, 16 regional TVET Centers of Excellence were selected from the three participating countries. Each center will specialize in specific sectors and occupations with niche programs in highly specialized TVET diploma and degree programs, as well as industry recognized short-term courses. EASTRIP will strengthen the capacity of the 16 TVET centers to produce skills for the regional sector markets in transport, port management, energy, light manufacturing, and ICT.

Dr. Kevit Desai Principal Secretary, state department of vocational and technical training, who officiated the event, said the project will equip the youth with knowledge, skills, attitudes and competences required for their personal growth and growth of the country. He said, “To increase access and address equity issues in TVET, we are establishing additional technical and vocational colleges to ensure that there is at least one per every constituency. These institutions will impart market driven skills to more than one million learners who graduate yearly from primary schools, secondary schools and universities.”

Hon. Teshome Lemma Ato, State Minister for Education, Ethiopia, expressed his appreciation to the World Bank for choosing East Africa for this integration skills project. “Ethiopia and Kenya have agreed to integrate through infrastructure. Kenya and Ethiopia want to develop their railway to connect the two countries and enhance business. In Ethiopia the railway corporation is one of the Centers of Excellence because it connects Ethiopia to Djibouti, and with plans to connect to Kenya, Sudan, South Africa and Cairo. All this requires skills,” he said.

Speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Education of the United Republic of Tanzania, Eng. Enock Kayani, the Assistant Director TVET, said Tanzania has a vision to become a middle income country by 2025 and to reach there they need to have skilled manpower. “We have identified three sectors of Energy, Agriculture, ICT and those are the sectors we want to implement to achieve Vision 2025,” he said.

The Executive Secretary of the Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA), Prof. Alexandre Lyambabaje, pledged IUCEA’s commitment to coordinate EASTRIP. “IUCEA is ready to play its role while contributing to harmonization of standards, facilitation of mutual recognition, building capacity for the management of centers of excellence and above all by incubating a regional body for sustainable coordination of TVET activities in East Africa,” he said, adding, “The structure and the mode of financing for the Regional TVET technical body are yet to be developed and agreed upon by all stakeholders.” IUCEA was selected as the Regional Facilitation Unit for EASTRIP in February 2018.

The World Bank Team Leader for EASTRIP, Dr. Xiaoyan Liang, announced that the total investment into the project is now US$300 million. “The World Bank believes this is an important project to promote more inclusive growth within East Africa and provide the middle-level skills produced by technical and vocational education and training.”

TVET is gaining momentum as a policy priority to increase labor productivity and enable economic transformation. TVET can be a powerful engine of economic restructuring and transformation as demonstrated in the Republic of Korea, Singapore, and China. TVET has been explicitly used in these countries as an instrument and channel for technology transfer and skills upgrading of workers. TVET is also associated with promoting social inclusiveness and poverty alleviation as it tends to attract students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds who have lower probabilities of reaching higher education.

Media Contacts:

Keziah Muthembwa, kmuthembwa@worldbank.org
Agnes Asiimwe Okoth, aasiimwe@iucea.org


Sector Focus Center Name Country


Railway Meles Zenawi Memorial TVET Polytechnic College Ethiopia
Railway Ethiopia Railway Academy Ethiopia
Marine Kenya Coast National Polytechnic Kenya
Air National Institute of Transport Tanzania
Road Kombolcha TVET Polytechnic College Ethiopia
Building infrastructure Meru National Polytechnic Kenya
Highway infrastructure Kenya Institute of Building and Highway Technology Kenya


Power/energy General Wingate Polytechnic College Ethiopia
Geothermal KenGen Geothermal Institute Kenya
Hydro Arusha Technical College Tanzania


Tool making TVET Institute Ethiopia
Textile/garment Hawassa TVET Polytechnic College Ethiopia
Textile Kisumu National Polytechnic Kenya
Leather DIT Mwanza Campus Tanzania
Agro-processing Holeta TVET Polytechnic College Ethiopia
ICT ICT DIT Dar es Salaam Campus Tanzania

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