During a speech at the ongoing Africa 2017 Forum in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El Sisi stated that entrepreneurs are the present and future of the African continent. According to him, they have the ability to become the main catalyst for the economic activity and contribute to providing job opportunities as well as achieving comprehensive sustainable development aspired to by Africans.
He arrived in Sharm El Sheikh to take part in Africa’s 2017 Forum, along with the President of the Republic of Rwanda, Paul Kagame.
President Sisi pointed out that in driving African entrepreneurship, there is a need to build trust with the youth if they are to benefit from the various policies and instruments the governments have put in place for economic development.
“We cannot have any strategy with youths if we don’t have trust and there is need to empower them as they are the future of the continent,” said President El Sisi. “In Egypt for instance, we give Micro and Small and Medium Entrepreneurs (MSMEs) about 200 billion Egyptian pounds ($118 Million) in form of loans at very low-interest rates.”
He also stressed the need for youth all over the continent to ensure they come up with bankable projects in order to attract government support.
As the African economy grows and government policies encourage diversification, each day presents new avenues for youth entrepreneurship and employment. President Kagame of Rwanda explained that young people are confident to develop the continent through enterprise development in various sectors. He also thanked President Sisi for supporting young entrepreneurs across Africa.
The Rwandan President urged African countries to look at the value in the youth and what they can do given an opportunity as they have the ability to unleash their potential.
“It is understandable that one should focus on what young people can do in entrepreneurship and help them raise their game which will result in the African continent gaining from their expertise,” said President Kagame. “We have to look at many things above all, how we can scale up and spread to the whole continent without leaving anyone out.”
He also went ahead to sight Rwanda which has created institutions that have embraced technologies which he said have worked for the country providing efficiency and expansion of the business thinking process.
There is a need for African governments to re-evaluate their commitments in areas that affect the young people. The youthful population not only gives Africa the chance to build educated, innovative and productive communities, it also provides businesses with the stability and security necessary to grow as a continent. However, it is also important to note that jobs are not necessarily created by only governments or big corporations alone, but also by small-scale businesses.
One of Africa’s leading entrepreneurs, Tony Elumelu, who was one of the Young Entrepreneurship Day (YED) ambassadors, explained that most youths have challenges in implementing business ideas because they fail to meet the requirements set up by most governments. He added that young entrepreneurs need a comfortable operating environment, good policies by governments, good infrastructure reasonable tax regimes as well as flexible regulation if the youths in Africa are to record an 80 percent business growth.
Tony Elumelu, along with other ambassadors of the YED led the session with the two African presidents to discuss youth and entrepreneurship. They include Mohamed Azab, founder and CEO of Seha Capital in Egypt, and Pauline Mujawamariya, Director at the Africa Innovation Foundation in Rwanda.
The Africa 2017 Forum aims at providing a platform for heads of state and government as well as private sector and business leaders in Africa and the world in order to discuss a wide range of business and development issues in the continent and to engage with some of Africa’s most important economic partners and stakeholder.