The African Development Bank (AfDB) has called for greater support of young entrepreneurs in the continent. The Bank made the call during a virtual event organised by the Tony Elumelu Foundation. The webinar was timed to coincide with International Youth Day, which was marked recently.
“Africa is young, and we need to do whatever it takes to empower our youth because they are the future of the continent,” said the Bank’s Acting Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, Wambui Gichuri, who spoke during the forum.
“Entrepreneurship is an essential part in addressing Africa’s employment challenge and where we need to put our focus.” He added.
The webinar themed, ‘Investing in Africa’s Future: Youth Empowerment Through Entrepreneurship,’ invited a range of private and public sector representatives to discuss the challenges young African entrepreneurs face, and more broadly the continent’s economic future, in light of the ongoing pandemic. The event was part of an ongoing series the Foundation has been hosting.
The population of Africans aged 18-35 was expected to hit 830 million people by 2050, creating a youth bulge which experts predict could create a corps of young workers to fuel the continent’s long-term economic growth, but also poses immense job-creation challenges.
“Africa is the epicenter for the economic devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now is the time to come together and rethink and reimagine our commitment to young African entrepreneurs,” said Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu, the Foundation’s CEO and panel moderator.
“Investing in our future means awaking the entrepreneurial spirit of every young person on the continent.”
Also on the panel was 22-year-old Leroy Mwasaru, founder of Greenpact, a Kenyan alternative renewable energy startup. An alumni of the Elumelu Foundation’s Entrepreneurship Program, Mwasaru expressed a desire to see greater communication and sharing of lessons learned among small and medium enterprises.