At the 51st Annual meeting of the board of governors of the African Development Bank (AfDB), African philanthropist Tony Elumelu, urged the private sector to tackle unemployment among African youths on the continent.
Mr. Elumelu, the Chairman of United Bank for Africa (UBA) and pan-African investment company Heirs Holdings said during a panel session at the event on Jobs for African Youths that “The solution to the problem of unemployment is going to come first from within and then from all of us working collectively. I believe entrepreneurship can solve the problem of job creation.”
Other speakers at this session include H.E. Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; H.E Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of the Republic of Ethiopia; Akinwunmi Adesina, President, African Development Bank; Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa; Mo Ibrahim, Founder of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and Thomas Silberhorn, Parliamentary State Secretary, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development(BMZ).
Mr. Elumelu charged the audience and co-panelists: “If we are serious about cultivating jobs, let Africans who want to help deal with this issue. The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP), is my foundation’s 10-year, $100 million commitment to empowering the next generation of African entrepreneurs and surely, there are more private sector leaders that are willing to invest in our continent’s future.”
“I see great entrepreneurship potential in many of the 45,000 applicants that applied for TEEP this year alone, but the level of training, mentoring and networking that we offer means that we can only select 1,000 each year. I call on everyone here to support those who missed the cut. This is a clear path to sustaining African economic growth.”
Also contributing to the panel discussion, the AfDB president, Akinwunmi Adesina, noted that Africa has a job crisis.
“Unemployment rate is a crisis. Africa is in a job crisis. I believe the solution is right here in Africa” Akinwunmi, who is also Nigeria’s immediate former Minister of Agriculture, emphasized that the future of Africa lies in a more “prosperous and inclusive Africa.”
The panelists were focused not only on creating jobs for the youths but also harnessing the skills available on the continent to ensure good use is made of the natural resources available. Thomas Silberhorn wants the world to take note of the fact that “$150bn worth of goods is exported each year outside the continent(of Africa) which is much more than the aid given” as Elumelu opined that “International Aid organisations need to re-evaluate the way they engage Africa in the 21st century”.
According to Mo Ibrahim “We are wonderful at wasting natural resources. The same way we waste our youth. We send our natural resources overseas where they add no value until they are refined’. In support of this, Lopez added that “African migrants, if properly trained, can return to the continent to add value just like the entrepreneurs being trained by the Tony Elumelu Foundation”.
“Young people need a helping hand, the kind that will make them self- reliant and self- confident so that they can add their quota to the development of the continent” said Tony Elumelu. He commended the AfDB for launching the New Deal on Energy for Africa initiative.