Africa’s leading philanthropist, investor and founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, Tony O. Elumelu, has identified youth unemployment as one of the major contributors to extremism and insecurity on the continent.
According to Elumelu, the fight against extremism and conflict must start with making youths and creating jobs the centre piece of African countries’ policies.
The top African entrepreneur and banker said this at a virtual Fireside chat hosted by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and the Heritage Foundation on Building Entrepreneurship, Economic Opportunity and Peace in Africa on Thursday, monitored by Persecondnews.
Speaking on the topic, “Building entrepreneurship, economic opportunity and peace in Africa”, Elumelu noted that the economic transformation of Africa lies in the hands of the young ones, young entrepreneurs.
He said: “lt lies on our young entrepreneurs who have great ideas, energy and audacity and what and how they can contribute to the development of the African continent.
“Unfortunately in terms of job creation and opportunities for our youths, Africa suffers and lags dismally behind.
“Youth unemployment is a waste of talent and a betrayal of a generation. It feeds extremism and insecurity.
“It has therefore become critical to lead conversations and forge partnerships across the world that should help to address this fundamental issue.”
“U.S. relations with Africa in my view, should be re-imagined, away from aids to focus on youth empowerment and support for sustainable institutions that should allow teeming youths to be productive,”‘ Persecondnews quotes Elumelu as saying.
Elumelu also posited that “poverty anywhere is a threat to mankind everywhere”.
He explained that extremism is a product of poverty, joblessness and lack of education.
“We need to remove the incentive of being extremist in the 21st century in Africa, by engaging and providing jobs for the young ones.
“On my own in 2010, my family founded the Tony Elumelu Foundation. Our purpose was simple; we wanted to democratize luck, we wanted to create economic opportunities for people.
“We wanted to play our own role in economically empowering our young ones and making them become better future Elumelus.
“So far, we have supported over 16,000 Africans. We set out to support 10,000; 1,000 every year, but through collaboration with like-minded partners we have been able to increase and achieve over 16,000 in seven years since we set up the entrepreneurship programme.
“I believe that the time to act is now and we need to do so urgently. We need to work together to avoid global catastrophe,” he explained.
In her remarks, the Special Assistant to the President of the United States and Senior Director for Africa at the National Security Council, Dana Banks, said the U.S government through the Prosper Africa initiative is looking at how to support African startups and entrepreneurs.
“In 2016 Africa Start-ups generated about $350 million in capital. In 2021 it was already up to $4 billion and on track in 2022 to generate $7 billion in capita.
“Through our Prosper for Africa Initiative, that was relaunched in July by President Biden, we have many tools in our tool box and one of the tools that was recently launched would provide additional credit to African startups to help them shape their businesses and community.”
Persecondnews recalls that the Tony Elumelu Foundation, founded in 2010, has trained more than 60,000 young entrepreneurs in 54 countries in Africa.
It has given about $200 million to trained entrepreneurs across Africa.