African business leaders invest in Africa’s youth


Africa has been described, at best, as a sleeping giant. Quite an unfortunate description of a land blessed with an abundance of natural and human resources.

Yet the continent continues to struggle for existence, as its state of affairs- from political independence to the promise of economic emancipation- have confined it to the apron strings of the dubious colonialists it gleefully ushered to the airstrips and harbours several decades ago.

While much of the blame for Africa’s perpetual underdevelopment has been laid, justly, at the doorstep of its political leaders, whose ineptitude, greed and thoughtlessness have rendered their respective economies prostrate as they rule over a desensitized mass of people who have been orientated towards corruption, puerile politicking, terrorism, kidnappings, genocide, xenophobia, internecine wars, and the like.

On the other hand, it gladdens one to know that a few business leaders have taken up the challenge to empower their people, particularly young people, by building a culture of leadership, entrepreneurship and social investment.

It is instructive that if they do nothing, Africa, and the wealth they have painstakingly built to generate profit and employment for future generations, might be wiped out by political recklessness and ideological belligerence that is consuming the continent.

Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, has stepped up his desire to increase the quality and quantity of young African leaders by establishing, in conjunction with the World Economic Forum, a fellowship programme aimed at raising scores of young African leaders.

Tony Elumelu’s TEEP, a multi-year training, mentoring and funding programme, awarded $5,000 grant to each of the first one thousand young African entrepreneurs last March; with a mission to grow ten thousand African start-ups and businesses over the next ten years.

Technology pioneer, Demola Aladekomo, whose passion to use technology to solve social problems inspired the building of the world’s largest internet café in 2008, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, has continued his over twenty years commitment to youth empowerment through the Volunteer Corps and the management trainee programme that has developed today’s crop of senior managers in various sectors of corporate Nigeria.

Seni Adetu, a former managing director of Guinness Nigeria PLC, mentors young people by helping them hone their analytical skills and building their personal brands.

Spurred by the words of Goethe that, “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it”, Patrick Awuah quit a lucrative post at Microsoft to set up Ashesi University in Accra, Ghana, to build the intellectual and social capacities of young Ghanaians, because he believes that everyone who goes to college now will be running the country one day- be it in the political space, public administration or private enterprise.

While more needs to be done to stem the tide of mutually assured destruction sweeping across the continent, the commendable efforts and sacrifices of these notable Africans and others, is a glimmer of hope for Africa’s renaissance.

Adeyemo is a visiting faculty at the School of Media and Communication of the Pan Atlantic University (PAU) in Lagos

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