Elumelu decries growing joblessness in Africa

Founder, Tony Elumelu Foundation, Mr. Tony Elumelu, has flayed the growing joblessness with the African continent.

Delivering a keynote address at the AfricaNow Summit 19 in Kampala, Uganda, Elumelu, who also the Chairman, United Bank for Africa (UBA), said it was time development partners teamed up in the 21st Century in a manner that is different to curb joblessness since government per se does not even create the kind of employment to check the menace.

According to him, “the joblessness we have in Africa cannot be fixed by government alone. Government per se does not even create the kind of employment that you need to pull the 720 million plus.. Every year, it is said that over 80 million people come into the job force in Africa. How prepared are we for this?

“Government needs to create the right environment. Development partners must work together in the 21st Century to intervene in a manner that is different. That is why we embrace entrepreneurship. That is why the Tony Elumelu Foundation calls on partners, others to come together, team up with us, so that we can create more employment in Africa. That way, we democratize prosperity on the continent.”

Also speaking at the Summit, the host, President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni,  noted that although education was necessary in all human endeavour, it is, however, not enough as it only creates people who only want white collar jobs with no skills to enable them produce goods and services, and, thereby swelling the number of the unemployed. 

He said: “They would have abandoned the subsistence farming of their parents without getting a skill in producing a good or service for the market either as employers or as workers.

“Apart from education and the liberalisation that frees the private sector to be active and innovative, you need other enablers. I have, previously, characterised these as removing the ten strategic bottlenecks.  Creating the enablers is removing those strategic bottlenecks.

 “By addressing the issues of education and health as well as the issue of the freedom of the private sector in its efforts to create wealth and jobs, we would have removed two strategic bottlenecks.

 “The eight remaining strategic bottlenecks are ideological disorientation where emphasis is put on identity rather than on interests, leading to sectarianism; that creates a weak state that cannot guarantee security, a sine qua non of private sector growth; lack of infrastructure such as electricity, the railways, etc., which results into high costs of doing business in an economy that undermines the profitability of companies.

“It, therefore, limits their expansion; a narrow internal market that cannot absorb the products of large scale manufacture of goods and the expansion of services; stopping the export of raw-materials where we get only 10 per cent of the value of the product and lose jobs to the outside; the under development of agriculture where, in the case of Uganda, 68 per cent of the homesteads are still in the non-money economy where people produce only for subsistence; the under development of services such as tourism, insurance or hotels; and, in some cases, absence of democracy.

“Awareness of the issues raised above is very crucial for Africa’s transformation. Addressing the above issues will enable us to create prosperity for our people. How? By our producers generating a lot of goods and service products that find a ready market.  The more we sell, the more we produce. The more we produce, the more jobs we create and the wider the tax base. The more taxes we collect, the better social services the African governments will provide.  Today, the African population is 1.25bn with a purchasing power of $6.757 trillion.” 

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