Reforming the irreformable, the challenge of Alpha Bacar Barry, minister of Mamadi Doumbouya, Jeune Afrique

Reforming the irreformable, the challenge of Alpha Bacar Barry, minister of Mamadi Doumbouya 

Published on February 2, 2024

Reading: 4 minutes.

It is Kourouma Dance who was the first to ask for his CV. It’s October 2021 and Alpha Bacar Barry is in Montpellier, where he is participating in the Africa-France summit, when he receives the call from the advisor to the president of the transition. Back in Conakry, he was received by Mamadi Doumbouya at the Mohammed V palace, in the presence of the then Prime Minister, Mohamed Béavogui. “We must reform technical education,” the head of government urges. Her nomination is published the same evening. Alpha Bacar Barry enters the government.

From microfinance to education

The idea had already crossed his mind. For ten years, this entrepreneur, well known in microfinance circles and in the United Nations system, has imagined himself completing his career with a ministerial position. But he sees himself more as Minister of Industry. “My experience is closely linked to questions of economic recovery, management of industrial parks, creation SMEs and entrepreneurship financing, through UNIDO [United Nations Industrial Development Organization],” he explains as we meet him in his office in Conakry.

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Before his appointment, he led Jatropha group, a consortium of companies specializing in microfinance, technology and agribusiness. “I had to learn everything, quickly,” he continues. The best way was to go into the field, interact with players in the sector and see the state of dilapidation professional establishments. You must prepare the vehicle before starting the race. »

Increase in reception capacity

In two years, the reception capacity in technical education has increased by 2 new places, thanks to the inauguration of new establishments such as the Regional Schools of Arts and Crafts (Eram) of Coyah and Dabola, and the renovation of Vocational Training Centers (CFP). This did not, however, make it possible to absorb the 000 candidates who presented themselves during de the last school year, in fact only 26 places were available.

Before, he explains, young people turned to technical education when they failed to enter university. “We have become more selective. From now on, you must have the baccalaureate to join the Eram. We have also tightened the admission criteria for health schools and for the National School of Secretarial, Administration and Commerce… Every year we have 6 university graduates who come to register for another diploma here provides easier access to employment,” rejoices Alpha Bacar Barry.

Mamadi Doumbouya may claim that he is keen to reform the sector, and although vocational schools now attract people, this is slow to be reflected in the state budget. Nearly 15% is devoted to the education sector as a whole, including higher education and national education.

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“Our objective is to increase to at least 700 billion Guinean francs in the amending finance law [currently, 400 billion are devoted to technical education]. But it is a fairly complex and long process,” explains the minister. “We had $25 million this year to build two new Erams in Kindia and Mamou, financed by the Islamic Development Bank ; 26 million euros from the European Union to qualify technical education and create jobs. And we are finalizing a loan with the English via UK Export Finance, for an amount of $120 million for the construction of ten technical high schools. »

" Economy of scale "

Before reaching out to foreign countries, Alpha Bacar Barry had obtained from Mamadi Doumbouya the injection of income (9 billion Guinean francs) from the resale of the official vehicles of former dignitaries of the fallen regime into the reconstruction and equipment of the CFP of Donka, in the close suburbs of Conakry. Renamed with the name du famous Guinean writer Camara Laye, the school was renovated by the students, supervised by workshop managers and professional engineers. This made it possible to achieve a “huge economy of scale, by using the innovative worksite-school approach which consists of involving students and the private sector”.

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The establishment, which did not even have a computer, is now equipped “virtual and augmented reality equipment”, rejoices Alpha Bacar Barry. A welding learner no longer needs de go through the workshop to understand the profession and its tools: “All he has to do is put on a mask and use software designed in France. »

The innovative approach has appealed beyond the borders of Guinea. The minister received a visit from his Central African and Malian counterparts. And two years after his appointment, Alpha Bacar Barry remains convinced that the impossible – reforming an underfunded and neglected sector for decades – is now within reach de hand.

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