The Chairman of the United Bank of Africa (UBA), Mr. Tony Elumelu, has stressed the need to unlock the potential of youths in Africa, in order to catalyse the socio-economic development of the continent.
He said youth restiveness remains a ticking time-bomb in the continent, noting that countries in the region continue to face issues around extremism, banditry, robbery, senseless killing, kidnapping and political thuggery, among others. The Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation said this in an address he delivered to 21,000 youth at the Joshua Generation International Youth Conference organised by the Anglican Church at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State, yesterday. He pointed out that Africa is the world’s youngest continent, saying that almost 60 per cent of the country’s population is under the age of 25.
In Africa, youths of 35 years and under are estimated to constitute 70 per cent of the population of the country, he said.
“However, the jobless rate in Nigeria has now risen to about 30 per cent in March 2021. Some states have as high as 56 per cent of all their youth population as unemployed. In Africa, the situation is not much different: We have 65 per cent of all Africans below the age of 35 and many of these people are not gainfully employed.
“The Covid-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns have exposed the vulnerabilities in our population structure. We now have, as a continent, the largest young generation in history – this youthful population is Africa’s hope, it is our pride and it is our potential. The urgency and need to unlock the potential of this generation is imperative for the security of our collective future.”
The Heirs Holdings boss however stated that in order to address this challenge, there is need for a high sense of urgency, a dissatisfaction to what is happening presently as well as a commitment to improving things.
“We must accept that we face a crucial period in our history where youth issues must be the main and central issue of our time. Millions of our young people are entering the job market every year; and 20 million jobs are needed to be created annually to absorb new entrants in the labour market.