It’s time for Africa to invest in it’s Youth Entrepreneurs

  • October 10, 2016

Over the past 10 years, Africa has witnessed a growth in economic and governance reforms and it is clearly reflected in the average annual growth of the continent which is more than 5%. The world has been negatively impacted by the global financial crisis and fall in the commodity prices, the continent has grown in the past decade in spite of global economic inactivity. The inclusive growth on the other hand remains elusive with not much of improvement in creating new and better job opportunities for the young generation.

Youth Demographics in Africa

With approximately 200 million people aged between 15 and 24 (the youth bracket), Africa has the youngest population in the world. The current trend indicates that this figure will double by 2040, according to the 2012 African Economic Outlook report prepared by experts from the African Development Bank (AfDB), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the industrialized countries’ Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), among others. Africa’s tale of youth unemployment runs on a parallel track with the story of consistent growth of Africa making it a matter of contradiction. By 2040, Africa will take over China and India with the largest youth workforce. Recognizing and channelizing the African youth is thus essential. More than half of the unemployed population of Africa comprises youth. Long term unemployment among the youth in Sub Saharan Africa reached 48.1% in 2014 and North Africa at a confoundingly shocking 30.5 % which is the world highest ( source: ILO report ). According to the report, three in five young workers (61.4 per cent) in sub- Saharan Africa do not have the level of education expected to make them productive on the job.

Why should Africa focus on Youth Entrepreneurship?

Impact of youth businesses on the development of a country is collectively positive. Businesses make enough money to survive in the present and facilitate future growth by creating job opportunities. Angola sets out as an example. Angola’s youth entrepreneurial rate is lower than the other regions yet it has the highest percentage of youth businesses creating job for others.

Young entrepreneurs hold the capacity to generate employment and impact young people through skill building and job creation. However, factors like inadequate support and lack of quality education, youth skills that are up to the mark of market demands are responsible for holding back the youth population from marching ahead on the path of entrepreneurship.

Woman in Africa dominate the informal sector employment; hence the gender gaps in the employment are high. Recently there have been developments in presenting new opportunities for changing the face of woman and youth in Africa. In 2015, the continent has adopted historic agendas at both global and regional levels which includes 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)and the African Union’s Agenda 2063, the continent’s 50 year transformative agenda for development, peace and security, and its First Ten-Year Implementation Plan. Planning and action to enforce inclusive growth, sustainable development and economic growth is the immediate need of the situation. Both the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063 talk about the support required from the stakeholders, policy makers, support organizations through ingenious partnership between African stakeholders and development partners. New enterprises are important in strengthening environmental and social orientation of Africa.

Increase the Entrepreneurial Activity: Support and Sustain Youth Entrepreneurship

Investing in the young population not only saves lives, it also contributes in overall well-being of the family which lead to lots of other benefits. Fields such as technology, agriculture , and transportation top the list of most important sectors responsible for the economic sustainability of a country.The level of education is directly proportional to the number of business owners and growth of business sector of a country. Pushing the uneducated youth into entrepreneurial activities is going to result in static status of business growth. The motivation for youth to enter into the business must not be the need of survival but a keen interest to explore the potential innovations and participate in the economic cycle. There is high potential and proclivity among the young population of Africa; they need to be well informed and aware of the existing programs and policies concentrating on youth empowerment. Government programs should be advertised and explained by the media widely with involvement of young people.

Existing programs and policies must be evaluated for their working and monitoring. More and more emphasis should be put in channelizing the youth towards the formal sector. The already established entrepreneurs should come forward to educate and mentor the budding young entrepreneurs, provide them guidance on operations, management and building links and how can they reinforce their innovative ideas to build a business.

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