At a series of events across COP28, I delivered a single message to world leaders; Africa needs to be heard, Africa’s future is the world’s future and the continent that is most impacted by and the least contributor to climate change, needs our attention.
With African youth set to make up one third of global population later this century, their potential needs to be properly harnessed.
For the future of Africa’s youth to be brighter, their entrepreneurial abilities, ambition and resilience need to be given high priority.
Entrepreneurship is the answer to the critical climate challenges Africa faces – challenges that are fuelling extremism and migration. Addressing a climate crisis that is not of Africa’s doing. The Tony Elumelu Foundation was created in 2010 by my wife and I to catalyze economic prosperity across Nigeria and the African continent.
We have done well. We have disbursed nearly $100 million in direct funding to over 18,000 young African women and men, who have collectively created over 400,000 direct and indirect jobs. We have connected over 1.5 million young Africans on our proprietary digital hub, TEF Connect. But there is so much more to be done.
Building on our proven track record in catalyzing impact across the continent, we are creating a USD500 million coalition to support 100,000 young Africans.
Initially I didn’t want partners, to perpetuate the image of Africa always asking. But frankly the task is huge – $100m only goes so far. We have catalyzed entrepreneurs – but also created an ecosystem, process, reach. I can tell stories of The Tony Elumelu Foundation’s missions in the Sahel, in fragile states.
The Coalition is open to development agencies, the global private sector, philanthropic organisations, and governments to create meaningful change and empower Africa’s next generation. It is building on existing partnerships – with the EU, the UNDP. Most recently the TEF x IKEA Foundation Partnership, to empower hundreds of green entrepreneurs in Kenya supporting energy transition sectors such as renewable energy.
The program aims at building a knowledge sharing platform, training the entrepreneurs and disbursing seed capital to implement sustainable businesses.
‘BeGreen Africa’, the name of the entrepreneurship programme, will train at least 1,600 young people in green sectors and will provide seed funding to 220 young entrepreneurs.
I am here with optimism, I see young African entrepreneurs every day succeeding, triumphing but also with a warning, I see climate degradation and extremism. Opportunities squandered.
We need to act, together, in time and equitably.