The Chairman of the United Bank of Africa (UBA), Mr. Tony Elumelu, has described youth restiveness in Nigeria and other African countries as a ticking time-bomb.
While stressing the need to unlock the potential of youths in Nigeria and other countries in Africa in order to catalyse the socio-economic development of the continent, Elumelu noted that countries in the region continue to face issues around extremism, banditry, robbery, senseless killing, kidnapping and political thuggery, among others.
The founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation said this yesterday in an address he delivered to the Anglican Church Youth in an ongoing event in Nzukka, Enugu State.
He pointed out that Africa is the world’s youngest continent, saying that almost 60 per cent of the country’s population is under the age of 25. He also noted that in Nigeria, youths of 35 years and under are estimated to constitute 70 per cent of the population of the country.
Elumelu acknowledged that the jobless rate in Nigeria has now risen to about 30 per cent in March 2021. Some states have as high as 56 per cent of all their youth population as unemployed and in Africa, the situation is not much different.
“The Covid-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns have exposed the vulnerabilities in our population structure. We now have, as a continent, the largest young generation in history – this youthful population is Africa’s hope, it is our pride and it is our potential. The urgency and need to unlock the potential of this generation is imperative for the security of our collective future.” He emphasized.
To address this challenge, the chairman of Heirs Holdings said, “We must accept that we face a crucial period in our history where youth issues must be the main and central issue of our time. Millions of our young people are entering the job market every year; and 20 million jobs are needed to be created annually to absorb new entrants in the labour market. Only about three million formal jobs are being created annually across Africa and this was even before the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic outbreak.”
While speaking on the power of entrepreneurship, Elumelu said: “For me and my colleagues at UBA, at TEF and the across the HH Group, we have come to believe that entrepreneurship-the power of entrepreneurship- is key to harnessing the potential of these young Africans
“By so doing, we secure our own future. This comes from our own experience, first as entrepreneurs ourselves. And secondly as people that have committed a lot of resources at TEF (capital, time, personnel) tin helping create a new generation of African entrepreneurs. We are helping to give economic hope and opportunities to young Africans. And we speak not just as people that do this in Nigeria but in all 54 African countries, the TEF intervention cuts across all sectors and gender across the 54 African countries because we believe that prosperity should be shared as much as possible across board and that poverty anywhere is a threat to us all everywhere.
“The enormous potential of our youth, we must prioritise our support for small-scale businesses. Corporate organisations do well in employing people but there is a limit on how much corporates can do in employing the huge numbers of our unemployed youths. Therefore, capacitating and supporting small businesses, empowering our young ones and their businesses, in our own view is the most powerful means to reduce unemployment on the continent,” he said.