By Obinna Chima
The Chairman of United Bank for Africa Plc, Mr. Tony Elumelu has stressed the need for governments in Africa to prioritise job creation in the continent, saying lack of jobs was becoming a disincentive to education.
Also, some other panellists that spoke during a session on “Leadership in an Era of Disruption,” at the just concluded 2017 World Economic Forum on Africa in Durban, South Africa, pointed out that Africaâ€™s leaders were not sufficiently addressing the continentâ€™s multiple challenges, thereby leaving a leadership vacuum that is proving difficult to fill.
According to Elumelu, it is not only up to big businesses to create jobs, saying that encouraging entrepreneurs was critical because their efforts also have significant multiplier effect.
The continentâ€™s new generation of leaders must be empathetic, agile and able to respond to the significant challenges experienced by Africans today, the panellists agreed.
Four out of five of the most unequal countries in the world are in Africa, the Executive Director of Oxfam International, United Kingdom, and a Co-chair of the World Economic Forum on Africa, Winnie Byanyima said.
She pointed out that ordinary people were trapped in poverty, saying the growth rates of the past had been about a few people making profits which meant people around the continent have legitimate reasons to protest against their lot. The response of many governments has been to silence them rather than address their concerns, she said.
Similarly, Leader of the Opposition, Parliament of South Africa (2011-2014), Lindiwe Mazibuko, spoke of the urgency of the need to empower new generations of leaders.
The Global Chief Executive Officer and President of The Boston Consulting Group, USA, and a Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum on Africa, Rich Lesser added his voice to a discussion of the importance of improving education in Africa.
â€œThe ticking clock on education is relentless,â€ he said. Millions of people across Africa do not have access to even basic education. The longer this situation continues, the more Africaâ€™s future will be compromised,” he said.