Unarguably, youth unemployment in Africa has indeed risen so high over the last few years. It has gotten to the level that job vacancies are always oversubscribed.
Youth Unemployment in Africa
Just recently, they were some disturbing reports. It’s said that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) received over 25 million job applications. Yes, 25 million applications in just two days of opening vacancies.
A couple of years ago, the government of Nigeria introduced the N-power program. The program recruited young unemployed graduates to work as volunteers for a monthly allowance.
Reports indicate that within few hours of launching the program, the application portal crashed due to overbearing traffic.
Recently, one of Nigeria’s telecom giants advertised two vacant positions it sought to fill. Reports show that over 65,000 applications were received. Yes, 65,000 applications for just 2 positions!
What about Entrepreneurship in Africa?
On the contrary, Tony Elumelu Foundation that runs an annual entrepreneurship program receive far less attention from young people.
This is despite consistently awarding $5,000 annually in seed capital to over 1,000 African entrepreneurs
Just take a look at the numbers.
Whereas, NNPC received over 25 million applications from ONLY NIGERIA in just 2 days with very minimal publicity, Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Program last year received only 151,000 applications (0.604% of NNPC’s number) from ALL OVER AFRICA in 60 days.
This is despite the huge amount the Tony Elumelu Foundation invests annually in promoting the TEF Entrepreneurship Program.
Obviously, hunting for non existing jobs is a more popular business than starting up an enterprise. Young Nigerians and indeed Africans would rather queue up to be employed rather than being the employers.
By extension, African Youths would rather have their destinies controlled by others, than take charge of their lives and fortunes.
This is very unfortunate and must change.
Every year, young Africans in search of lucrative jobs take on dangerous journeys across the Sahara. They fall off boats and sink to the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea.
This should stop.
The very unpopular entrepreneurship is the answer to job creation and reduction of unemployment in Africa.
What our young people forget is that ALL the multinationals they yearned to work for today were once SMEs.
If others didn’t start these SMEs and grow them, how would we see and be attracted to these corporations today?
The Role of Entrepreneurship in Reducing Youth Unemployment in Africa
Entrepreneurship promotes the creation and expansion of small and medium-scale businesses. This is what’s driving job creation in the developed world and can do same in Africa.
Promoting entrepreneurship through the establishment of cottage industries will allow Africa create industrial value chains across its commodities.
Participating in global value chains will expand job opportunities in Africa. It will also make Africans wealthier through value chain activities.
Take a look at the chocolate market. The commodity segment of that market is just 2% of the total market. The total market is worth about $120 billion.
Through entrepreneurship, we can create industrial value chains which will allow us to participate in this huge chocolate market.
What about the cornflakes market? Africa’s participation in the global cornflakes market is negligible. If we can create modular industries to produce cornflakes, that would be enormous jobs and wealth for Africans.
Entrepreneurship would make African youths very creative and innovative as they strive to stay ahead of competition. Such creativity will allow Africa create more value out of its natural endowment.
Also, if Africans build more businesses, tax revenues acruing to the government would increase tremendously. That would in turn allow governments invest more in infrastructure development. Developing infrastructure would derisk Africa’s business environment and allow more investment flow into Africa.
A Call To Action
As our demographics become more youthful, job creation must be accelerated and entrepreneurship is the key to achieving this.
African governments must therefore prioritize entrepreneurship development in order to reduce youth unemployment in Africa.
I believe Africa can build more successful young entrepreneurs to create more jobs. What we need is to institutionalize structures that would allow easy access to cheap capital in Africa.
Young people should be able to access funding the need to start and successfully run their businesses.
African youths must have access to the right information to make sound business decisions that would facilitate their entrepreneurial success.
Its time for African leaders to toe the line of the Tony Elumelu Foundation by providing African entrepreneurs with access to funding, mentoring and networks.
When our entrepreneurs are successful, they will reduce youth unemployment in Africa and foster shared prosperity.
They will transform African economies from zones of economic misery to zones of economic prosperity.
The time to act is now!
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