Africa’s greatest asset is its young people. However, without harnessing their potential and equipping them with skills of the future, restless, hungry, unemployed young people could also be Africa’s biggest problem.
On 27 July 2019, while attending the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) entrepreneurship forum in Abuja, Nigeria, African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina recommitted to the Bank’s Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy. He called on global investors, political leaders and the business community to shift from youth empowerment to youth investments.
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-owned businesses.
The Bank has been leading continental efforts to create employment and improve young livelihoods. It has approved $7.5 million to fund enterprise support organizations such as the Tony Elumelu Foundation and other incubators, accelerators and financial institutions.
Since its launch in 2016, the Jobs for Youth strategy continues to make progress based on three key pillars: innovation, integration and investment. It aims to create 25 million jobs and help 50 million young people by 2025 by providing them with the skills to obtain decent and meaningful jobs. This is currently the largest ongoing effort for youth employment in Africa today.
To date, the Bank has invested more than $400 million in public and private operations to promote youth employment across Africa.