Africa’s rising youth population is outpacing available jobs in the public and private sectors, leaving would-be workers vulnerable to exploitation, terrorism and human rights abuses. Nigerian entrepreneur Tony Elumelu believes the solution to Africa’s unemployment problem is for the private sector to lead and drive growth, a philosophy he calls “africapitalism”. He was on a two-day working visit to Ghana.
The president of Coca-Cola, Central, East and West Africa, Kelvin Balogun, says almost 50 percent of graduates churned out by universities in Africa each year do not find jobs.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates the youth unemployment rate in sub-Saharan Africa is nearly 12 percent. A World Bank report in 2016 said nearly half, (48 percent) of Ghanaian youth are unemployed. Analysts blame the country’s poor macroeconomic performance and a surge in population growth for the problem.
African leaders have committed to reduce poverty in the continent to below 20 percent by 2030, but the entrepreneur Tony Elumelu said this cannot be achieved if entrepreneurs are not empowered.
Elumelu believes the solution to unemployment is his ‘africapitalism’ philosophy- a concept in which the private sector leads and transforms development in Africa.
Elumelu says African entrepreneurs must partner to create more jobs for its youth. VOA caught up with him after he gave a lecture to students at the University of Ghana.
“Partnerships don’t work well in Africa and we must address this because collective effort is better than singular effort,” said Elumelu. “From my experience I think trust is very important. So alignment of interest is key panacea for addressing partnership failures in Africa.
In Ghana, the unemployment problem was worsened by four years of interrupted electricity supply, which resulted in the loss of thousands of existing jobs and closure of many businesses.