Wednesday, July 31, 2019 / 3:00PM / Bukola Akinyele for Proshare WebTV / Header Image Credit:@AfDB_Group
At the recent 2019, Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme that took place in Abuja, Nigeria, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, President, African Development Bank, AfDB, emphasized the need for strategic investments in Africa’s youth right across the continent.
Dr. Adesina was one of the panellists that discussed prospects for supporting young African entrepreneurs, to transform the continent’s economic landscape.
He said that what the youth required from the governments and private sector was investments, not empowerment.
According to him “ If you look at the economic growth rates of Africa to date, this year’s projection showed that the GDP would be 4%, next year 4.1% but that doesn’t tell the story of the excitement of this continent. You have 22 countries that are growing at well over 5% and 21 countries that are growing at 3 to 5%”.
Speaking further Adesina highlighted that Global average GDP growth rate was 3.2%, which means that Africa is doing well and shows economic resilience.
The AfDB President said that growth rate was important, but that large GDPs themselves do not create jobs.
He noted that the current challenge in Africa is its huge demography of 678m young people on the continent. This means that economic opportunities need to be created for 12m to 13m people that enter the labour market annually; out of which only 3m young people get jobs.
“So when we talk about growth, it must be a growth that can create quality jobs and lead to decent living,” Adesina said.
Giving further insight the AfDB boss said the region must plan for the population of young people, that will grow to 840m by 2050 and 1bn by 2063.
“We can’t keep postponing their future we must help them today. The young people are not liabilities they are assets. We must begin to put our capital at risk for the young people of Africa,” he said.
Adesina further stated that African leaders and governments must address three fundamental issues, namely; missing institutions, market failure and failure of government.
He believed it was time to begin to set up youth entrepreneurship and investment banks across the continent.
Speaking further, he added, “Why do we have a growth process that doesn’t generate jobs. It’s because we have missing institutions, we have a market failure the current market system doesn’t provide financing to them, and we have governments that are not playing their role well enough. That is why we are producing jobless people. Poverty is not an asset”.
Adesina who was the former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development in Nigeria believed that with youth entrepreneurship and investment banks, Africa would fly because the youth that converged at the TEF Forum 2019 were not only the future of Africa but also the present crop of leaders who require impact investments.
He emphasized the need for a framework that guarantees the de-risking of business lending to young people on the continent.