The Chairman of Heirs Holdings and Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, Tony Elumelu, has called on African leaders and development institutions to help address the deepening job and employment crisis bedevilling the continent by lending support and paying more attention towards the agricultural sector, creating access to electricity and developing entrepreneurship.
Elumelu said this while speaking on the theme: “How do we create 10 million jobs by 2020?” at the Youth Connekt Africa Summit in Rwanda on Saturday.
He opined that access to electricity and increased focus in the agricultural sector would enhance entrepreneurship and tackle the challenge of unemployment through the creation of more jobs in the continent.
Elumelu, a passionate advocate of entrepreneurship and Africapitalism, also upheld the notion that the private sector has the responsibility to play the lead role in contributing to job creation in Africa and cited the example of the Tony Elumelu Foundation and its various investments in these key areas, adding that this is visible from the $100 million commitment towards supporting African entrepreneurs over the years.
He said: “Today we have businesses in 20 African countries and employ 30,000 people directly and 50,000 people indirectly. Agriculture, access to electricity and entrepreneurship have the potential to create more jobs in Africa.”
The TEF boss stated that Africa can be self-reliant and self-dependent if the right infrastructure and government support are put in place to boost these sectors.
In this regard, he commended the effort of President Paul Kagame of Rwanda for his brilliant initiatives in the areas of entrepreneurship and attracting key investments to the African continent.
The President of the African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, who supported Elumelu’s stance, acknowledged that agriculture can create jobs for the teeming African population if youths approached the sector, not just as a way of life, but as a business.
Adesina seized the opportunity to commend Elumelu for his work in entrepreneurship and pledged to support the work of the TEF in the creation of jobs.
He said: “I applaud Tony Elumelu’s work in entrepreneurship because entrepreneurship is key. We will help to scale up what Tony Elumelu is doing. If others are doing same, we will succeed in Africa.”
The Rwandan Development Board also hosted Elumelu at a roundtable breakfast meeting with the Founder and Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group, Jack Ma, to discuss investment opportunities in Africa.
The Youth Connekt Summit, hosted by President Kagame, gathered 2,500 invited guests from the private and public sectors.
The opening plenary session was moderated by Adeyemi Babington Ashaye, the Head, Global Shapers Community, World Economic Forum.
Other panelists included Akinwumi Adesina; Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary, Economic Commission for Africa; and Diane Karusisi, CEO, Bank of Kigali.