Empowering Youths Economically, Best Way to Develop Africa – Tony Elumelu

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The Founder and Chairman of Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) HEIRS Holding, Mr. Tony Elumelu, has said that giving economic power to young people remains the only solution to Africa’s developmental challenges, especially in the Sahel region.

This, according to him, is because 65 per cent of Sahelians are less than 25 years of age and remain adversely affected by the pandemic.

Elumelu stated this yesterday at the virtual launch of a developmental initiative for the Sahel region tagged, ‘Generation Unlimited (GENU) Sahel: A Leap For Sahel Youth’ which is aimed at connecting Sahel’s young people to opportunities.

He said more than two million people in the Sahel region are forced to flee their homes with millions losing their major sources of livelihoods as resources are scarce and opportunities are limited leading to more tensions and conflicts in the Sahel region.

“Empowering and investing in our people, especially our young ones in the Sahel to give them economic hope and opportunities is the only solution. This is what we believe in at the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) and we are happy that global partners also buy into this vision. As I have always said, poverty anywhere is a threat to all of us,” he said.

According to him, TEF has provided over $5000 non-refundable seed capital per beneficiary, business training and mentoring for young entrepreneurs to scale their enterprises.

“We have funded 10, 898 entrepreneurs across Africa, these young Africans entrepreneurs have gone on to create further 400, 000 direct and indirect jobs across the continent.

“In 2019, we partnered with the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) to identify , train, mentor and fund 2100 young entrepreneurs in the Sahel region and these includes Northern Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Chad, Cameroun and Mauritania.

“Again in 2020 in the heat of the pandemic we partnered with UNDP to train 1860 young Malians which face a triple threats of conflicts , insecurity and poverty as well as loss of means of livelihood from climate change, through our interventions we are well able to create small businesses and generate economic pool in the youth; channeling their creativity and skills to transform the Sahel region,” he said.

Elumelu called for collective efforts in order to find a lasting solution to all intractable crises that have hindered development in the region.

Speaking at the virtual launch, the Prime Minister of Belgium, Alexander De Croo, said the young people from the Sahel would bring improvement and change needed in the region if given the opportunity.

He noted that among the many challenges facing young people two were more important and pledged to work with Nigeria in the field of digital space.

“First strengthening education systems from basic education to vocational training to supporting young people finding employment and addressing the lack of governance and political representation from young people.

He maintained that the private sector has a role to play in young people ”especially in the digital field and I hope that Generation Unlimited Sahel will further strengthen this generation of young people, bringing hope and change.

The event saw some notable world leaders making pledges towards programmes that will address the critical role of youth in contributing to peace, security, stability, and economic growth in the Sahel.

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