Tony. O. Elumelu C.O.N, Founder, Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) and Chairman, United Bank for Africa Group (UBA) proposed job creation for the youth, inclusive growth, and gender diversity as priority areas for Africa’s development agenda to achieve peace and stability on the continent.
He said this while speaking on a high-level panel with His Excellencies Macky Sall, President of Senegal, and Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, President of Mauritania. Other speakers on the panel include Florence Parly, Defence Minister of France; and Pierre Buyoya former President of Burundi and representative of the African Union.
Mr. Elumelu stressed the urgency in tackling poverty, the root cause of extremism in Africa. He said: “We know, and we say, that poverty anywhere is a threat to mankind everywhere. What manifests itself in what we call security breakdown or terrorism, or extremism is actually deeply rooted in poverty, in joblessness So with due respect, we can have 101 seminars like this but unless and until we begin to address these issues of poverty, joblessness amongst our young ones, they will continue to allow themselves to be brainwashed by people who see no future, and they will continue to engage in extremism.”
He emphasised that while it is no doubt important to discuss weaponry, and other means to deal with insurgency, a lasting peace can only be attained in the long run by investing in our young people across Africa.
H.E. Macky Sall acquiesced to the need for the public sector to collaborate with the private sector to tackle poverty on the continent. He said: “Addressing the threats cannot be done on a standalone basis due to the fact that the challenges know no borders”. He called for a more collaborative approach to alleviate violence and extremism to boost investments in Africa.
Mr. Elumelu cited the impact of the Tony Elumelu Foundation’s $100 million Entrepreneurship Programme as one of the practical ways the private sector in Africa can intervene to bring about peace and stability on the continent. Speaking further, he referenced the partnership between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) to empower 100,000 young Africans in 10 years with a focus on the Sahel region for its first year. Also mentioning TEF partnerships with other international development agencies such as GIZ and ICRC, Mr. Elumelu reiterated that only “activities and interventions like this will help to bring economic hope to people in this part of the world and they will become less involved in extremism. We support these young ones and we are beginning to see how their successes are translated into better and more secure communities”.
Mr. Elumelu pointed out that businesses cannot flourish where there is extremism and people are afraid for their lives. It will be even harder to attract the global private capital needed for large infrastructure projects and long-term investments which can help to fix our economy.
Mr. Elumelu ended his session on an optimistic note, calling on all stakeholders to collaborate to win the war on poverty and insecurity. “There is a lot we all can do – the private sector, government, and development partners – in making sure that we focus on winning the war on terrorism; that we make sure we stem the migration of our young people crossing the Mediterranean through harsh conditions, in search of hope, when indeed we have more opportunities and resources in our continent. We need to work together to ensure that extremism is totally annihilated in Africa. It is possible but we need to work together to achieve this.”