Tony Elumelu

Chairman, United Bank for Africa Group (UBA) and founder, Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), Mr. Tony Elumelu has said high poverty rate is largely to blame for rising insecurity in Africa.

Elumelu who spoke while addressing high-level panel with the President of Senegal, Macky Sall and the President of Mauritania, Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, among others, called for concerted effort towards job creation for the youth, inclusive growth, and gender diversity. These, according to him, were priority areas for Africa’s development agenda and the the pathway to peace and stability on the continent.

Elumelu’s foundation has been in the forefront of empowering African youths through trainings, mentorship and financial support.

“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,” ThisDay quoted him as saying.

“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 was no doubt important to discuss weaponry, and other means to deal with insurgency, a lasting peace could only be attained in the long run by investing in our young people across Africa.

Continuing, 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, 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.”

He 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,” he said.