The President of African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, challenged governments in Africa to play a leading role in providing jobs for Africans, saying it was time for African governments to begin to shift from youth empowerment to youth investment.
Adesina who was speaking over the weekend at the 5th Tony Elumelu African Entrepreneurship forum in Lagos, Nigeria, delivered a clarion call to global investors, political leaders and the business community “to put capital at risk for the young people of Africa”. The current market system does not provide financing to Africans, he deplored.
He said some governments are not playing their roles properly and that’s why “we are producing so many people that are just jobless”.
Adesina proposed the establishment of youth entrepreneurship and investment banks to meet the growing and urgent needs of youth entrepreneurs. “A bank you can walk into where they see assets not liabilities, where they have faith and confidence in young people,” he said. He also called for the de-risking of loans to youth businesses.
Over 5000 entrepreneurs, global business leaders and Heads of State, including the presidents of Senegal, Congo, and Rwanda took part in the forum.
Other leaders include the Nigerian vice president Yemi Osinbajo, Nigerian First Lady Aisha Buhari, Guinean First Lady Djena Kaba Conde, Malian First Lady Keita Aminata Maiga, Ugandan Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda among others.
Tony O. Elumelu, founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, reiterated the urgency in creating jobs on the continent to catalyze Africa’s development.
He said, “Extremism is a product of poverty and joblessness. Poverty anywhere is a threat to everyone everywhere,” he said. “If our leaders understand the reason and rationale for our youths to succeed, they will do everything they can to support them.”
Elumelu also reiterated the role of technology as a key enabler in accelerating development, citing TEFConnect, the digital networking platform for African entrepreneurs launched by the Tony Elumelu Foundation in 2018.
Tony O. Elumelu founded the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) in 2010 to remove the obstacles that Africa’s entrepreneurs face as they grow and develop their start-ups into small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and their SMEs into national growth companies, and in turn their national growth companies into African multinationals.
The TEF entrepreneurship program aligns with the goals of the African Development Bank, whose Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy aims to support African countries to create 25 million jobs and empower 50 million young people by 2025.