Mr Tony Elumelu, the Chairman of Heirs Holdings, said the huge youth unemployment is a threat that could derail the modest gains that Africa has made over the years.
Mr Elumelu said to help solve the unemployment on the continent, the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme was investing $100 million to create 10,000 entrepreneurs across Africa within the next 10 years.
Speaking to a select group of journalists, Mr Elumelu said the increasing number of youth entering the job market annually coupled with the continent’s inability to create opportunities to meet those demands posed a huge problem to the continent.
It is estimated that by 2020, there would be 120 million youths entering the job market but the continent could create only about 50 million, leaving a huge deficit.
Mr Elumelu said the danger to the continent lay in how the big numbers of people without jobs were going to be engaged so as not to misapply their energies.
“Unemployment to me is one of the single most critical threats we have as a continent,” she said. “Young people if not fully engaged will misapply themselves and it will be a consequence on the continent.”
In this direction, Mr Elumelu said there was the need to find creative ways to generate jobs through entrepreneurship so people could be empowered economically through their personal ambitions and effort.
However, in doing this, the African entrepreneur must imbibe the spirit of discipline, savings, and investing for long-term, to be able to realise their dreams.
“Dreams on their own just don’t happen,” he explained. “It encapsulates all the elements of discipline and living long-term goals.
“Besides, the private and public sector need to work in concerted fashion to bring out the best in the entrepreneurs.”
Mr Elumelu said another critical factor that could help make economic difference was increasing access to electricity to help speed up the industrialisation process and build sustainable businesses that would explore the Africa market and beyond.
“There is also the need for improved governance to reduce corruption and to create a conducive environment for businesses to thrive,” he advised.