New National Qualifications Frameworks emerging on the continent

In 2021 and 2022 new National Qualifications Frameworks in development, consultation and approved; and few are being reviewed to adapt to new demands.

In 2021 and 2022 new National Qualifications Frameworks in development, consultation and approval

New synthesis on key features of NQFs - based on 12 country cases in Africa. Read the synthesis report.

In all regions of the African continent more countries are taking steps and actions to develop, approve and operationalise National Qualifications Frameworks (NQF).

  • In 2021 Rwanda approved the new integrated and comprehensive NQF, and Egypt adopted legislative amendments that start a new phase - towards full operationalisation of the NQF.
  • Mozambique and Angola progressed with the conceptual and technical work on the NQF, and activated stakeholders' consultation, preparing for adoption of the respective NQF legal acts in 2022.
  • In Morocco the government engaged reflection and analysis on the options for governance of the NQF.
  • Guiné-Bissau gave the first steps, by creating the basic foundations for an inter-stakeholder working group and developing the baseline analysis and first roadmap for further work on the NQF.
  • Cameroon resumed work on the NQF
  • Sierra Leone continues the NQF construction process, initiated in 2020.

Moreover, countries with established and operational NQFs are reviewing and improving the technical design, governance and tools of the framework. Seychelles and Zambia are among this group of countries, which acknowledge that NQFs too adapt to change.

National Qualifications Frameworks (NQF) in Africa are at different stages of development and implementation. Considering a total of 41 countries included in the data collected by the ACQF Mapping Study, the continent has a higher number of qualifications frameworks (approved, implementation started or implementation advanced) than other larger regions had when they enacted their overarching RQFs. Although thirteen years separate the advent of the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) and the development of the ACQF, it is very useful to note that when the legal base of the EQF was approved (2008), only three countries had NQFs in place and operational (France, Ireland and the United Kingdom).

The African continent has a diverse panorama of qualifications frameworks (national and regional), marked by some dynamism, manifested by starting development of NQFs in some countries, or by the approval of NQF legal basis in other countries and review and renewal of certain aspects of the NQF or the RQF in a range of other countries. The summary overview below should be seen as dynamic; updates from the NQF institutions and ministries will contribute to maintain this information to be accurate and useful for reference.

  • Three NQFs at the stage of advanced implementation (and were already reviewed); other NQFs can be included in this category, given their recent developments and review of certain aspects - this is the case of Botswana, Namibia, Seychelles and Zambia.
  • Nineteen qualifications frameworks at the stage where the relevant legal base had been approved and implementation had started. A number of these nineteen qualifications frameworks have substantial experience and could be considered to be part of the advanced implementation group
  • In seven of these nineteen countries, the existing qualifications frameworks are sectoral, not integrated and inclusive. The majority of such cases are TVET qualifications frameworks (countries highlighted in Table 1). Some of these countries have advanced in elaborating an integrated / comprehensive national qualifications framework, inclusive of all levels of qualifications from all sub-sectors (e.g.: The Gambia, Malawi and Mozambique).
  • Eight countries are developing their NQFs, engaging stakeholders and different ministries in the consultation process. Several countries currently at this stage have entered the approval/adoption process.
  • Eight countries are undertaking early steps towards the development of an NQF;
  • One regional qualifications framework, the SADC Qualifications Framework (SADCQF) started implementation, and in 2021 has initiated a process of implementation review.
  • One regional qualification framework, the East African Qualifications Framework for Higher Education (EAQFHE), had been adopted, though implementation was limited to higher education qualifications. In 2021 the same region has advanced in developing a regional TVET qualifications framework.

Table 1: Qualifications frameworks in Africa by stage of development and implementation - overview (end 2021). Underlined: countries with qualifications framework of sectoral scope (mostly focused on qualifications of TVET systems)

Stage of NQF development and implementation
NQF development to be started
Chad, Republic of Congo, São Tomé e Príncipe
NQF in early thinking
Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Union of Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Togo
NQF in development and consultation
Angola, Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Madagascar, Morocco, Sierra Leone, Somalia
NQF legal act approved, implementation started
Botswana, Egypt, Eswatini, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe
NQF in advanced implementation and reviewed
Cape Verde, Mauritius, South Africa
Some countries can be added to this category, given their recent developments, e.g.: Botswana, Namibia, Seychelles and Zambia.

Source: Dataset of ACQF Mapping Study