It was a family affair on Monday, when my daughter, Oge, and I, were part of the launch of Generation Unlimited (Gen-U) Sahel. TOE Girl, as I fondly call her, co-hosted the launch event which featured important contributions and commitments to creating a lasting solution to the troubling crisis in the Sahel. As I reiterated at the event, it is only by empowering and investing in the young people in the Sahel to give them economic hope and opportunities, that we will resolve this intractable combination of conflict, insecurity, and poverty.
For years, the Sahel region has been vulnerable to insurgency, violence, and hardship. Despite the region’s massive potential as home to the youngest population in the world – 194 million people under 25years making 64.5% of the total population – this opportunity remains untapped. I believe that the launch of Gen-U Sahel will drive sustainable investment and interest to the region to create an enabling environment that is required to convert the impending demographic doom to economic boom.
The Gen-U initiative is also important because it forges partnerships between governments, development agencies, civil society, and private sector from across the world. This unique model of public and private sector partnership is a poignant example of Africapitalism in action, and will connect 100 million Sahelian youth to skilling, employment, entrepreneurship, and social impact opportunities by 2030.
The Tony Elumelu Foundation is happy to be a global partner and co-implementor for this programme in the Sahel. Given our track record, expertise, grassroots networks and local knowledge of the region, the Foundation will help to realise our shared ambitions for Sahelian youth.
The Gen-U Sahel launch is timely, as Africa looks toward a future that will be predominantly determined by the youth. Interventions like the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme and the Gen-U Sahel are no doubt steps in the right direction to create a pathway for socio-economic prosperity across Africa.