President Bola Tinubu has called on African leaders to increase investment in African youths toward enhancing the socio-economic development of the continent.
Tinubu said this during a Breakfast Launch of the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) Impact Report, held on the margin of the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) meeting in New York.
The report has the title, “The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme: A Decade of Impact”.
The report highlights the significant contribution of the TEF’s flagship 100 million dollars Entrepreneurship Programme in advancing Africa’s socio-economic development.
The programme was organised by TEF, United Nations Development Fund (UNDP) and United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) GEN-U (a global partnership to skill and connect young people to opportunities in education, employment and social impact.
Tinubu, represented by the Minister for Trade and Industry, Doris Uzoka-Anite, said that African leaders aren’t doing enough for the citizens and African youths as regards socio-economic development.
“I don’t think we are doing enough as Africans for Africa. I think we need to do a lot more.
“Tony Elumelu is the major person driving investment in SMEs, supporting the youths, entrepreneurship, and start-ups. We need to challenge ourselves more, go a bit further.
“Africa has some of the richest people on the planet, we have a resource rich continent, a huge population of young people, and I think that we need to take that challenge upon ourselves as Africans, to support one another,” he said.
Tinubu said that Africa should desist from its reliance on donor funding, noting that such should support what had already been established and not show Africans the way to do things.
He noted that Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) were the engines of Nigeria and African economic growth, adding that they contributed almost half of the national GDP, and more than 80 per cent of employment.
“And this is why we owe them every support that we can make available,” he said.
Tinubu added that the right infrastructure which includes regulations, property rights, access to justice, protection from unfair competition, power, roads and ports access would be provided.
Similarly, Mr Tony Elumelu, Chairman, TEF, noted that the foundation took a bold step to transform Africa 13 years ago, by enhancing entrepreneurship development and galvanise African solutions.
Elumelu noted that TEF had lit a beacon, noting that support and collaboration was required to make the beacon shine brighter and better.
“100 million dollars is a drop of water in the ocean compared to what we need in Africa. Young Africans need economic support.
“We’ve seen the devastating effect of climate change, how our young ones due to hopelessness are migrating and living in difficult situations. We want to put a stop to that,” he said.
To achieve that, Elumelu called for collaboration and increased investment in young Africans, bringing more women to economic activities and alleviating poverty.
“Poverty anywhere is a threat to all of us everywhere,” he said.
Earlier, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Somachi Chris-Asoluka, said TEF had empowered young African entrepreneurs from all the 54 African countries.
Chris-Asoluka noted that TEF had surpassed its target and funded 18,000 entrepreneurs and disbursed over 100 million dollars, directly, as seed capital to entrepreneurs who had created over 400 thousand jobs across African countries.
She said that 91 per cent of businesses supported by the foundation were still active, generating significant revenue of over 2.3 million dollars and creating jobs.
According to her, the foundation has boosted gender representation, noting that the goal is to create a brighter and inclusive future for Africa.
Ms Ahunna Eziakonwa, Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Africa, UNDP, said UNDP partnered TEF due to shared interest that drives development across Africa and globally.
Eziakonwa noted that Africans wealth was its population which constitutes 70 per cent of young, vibrant and innovative Africans.
“It is our loss if we don’t invest in them because that is the future of prosperity,” she said.
She called for enhanced collaboration and investment to strengthen economic development of African youths.
Also, Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, said that TEF’s work aligns with Lagos State programmes on economic empowerment and poverty reduction.
Sanwo-Olu said that collaborative efforts must evolve, to enhance the scale of Impact to deepen inclusion, equity and fairness.