Chairman of United Bank of Africa (UBA), Tony Elumelu, has restated the need for all stakeholders to unlock the potential of youths in Africa to catalyse the socio-economic development of the continent.
He said youth restiveness is a ticking time bomb to the continent as various countries continue to face extremism, banditry, robbery, senseless killings, kidnappings and political thuggery, among others.
The Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation said this Wednesday in an address he delivered to 21,000 youths at the Joshua Generation International Youth Conference organised by the Anglican Church at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State.
The frontline banker noted that Africa is the world’s youngest continent with almost 60 per cent of its population under the age of 25.
In Africa, youths of 35 years and under are estimated to constitute 70 per cent of the population, he said.
“However, the jobless rate in Nigeria has now risen to about 30 per cent as of March 2021. Some states have as high as 56 per cent of all their youth population as unemployed. In Africa, the situation is not much different. We have 65 per cent of all Africans below the age of 35 and many of these people are not gainfully employed.
“The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns have exposed the vulnerabilities in our population structure. We now have, as a continent, the largest young generation in history. This youthful population is Africa’s hope; it is our pride and it is our potential. The urgency and need to unlock the potential of this generation is imperative for the security of our collective future,” Elumelu said.
According to the Chairman of Heirs Holdings, to address this challenge, there is need for a high sense of urgency, a dissatisfaction to what is happening as well as a commitment to improving things.
“We must accept that we face a crucial period in our history where youth issues must be the main and central issues of our time. Millions of our young people are entering the job market every year, and 20 million jobs are needed to be created annually to absorb new entrants in the labour market.
“Only about three million formal jobs are being created annually across Africa and this was even before the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic outbreak,” he added.