New York, September 30, 2019 – The African Union Development Agency-NEPAD, on the margins of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly launched the ‘100,000 SME’s for 1 million Jobs by 2021’ campaign at the AU Permanent Observer Mission.
As part of its integrated approach to development in Africa, the African Union Development Agency-NEPAD places special emphasis on harnessing Africa’s youthful demographic dividend in line with the African Union Commission Chairperson’s ‘1 million by 2021 Initiative.’ The initiative aims to provide concrete opportunities for 1 million young people by the year 2021, in the areas of Education, Employment, Entrepreneurship and Engagement.
Introducing the African Union Development Agency-NEPAD (AUDA-NEPAD), Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, the Chief Executive Officer said, AUDA-NEPAD was created through the African Union reforms led by President Paul Kagame, to implement the decisions of the African Union. “Today, therefore we are here to implement the target of reaching the creation of 1 million jobs by 2021,” Dr Mayaki remarked.
The African population has witnessed a boom, with a population growth rate of 3% per annum. It is expected to continue to rise and reach 362 million young people (aged 15 to 24) by 2050. “Therefore,” as Dr Mayaki, said, “The youth populations need to find their space by building their entrepreneurial capacity.”
H.E Amira El Fadil, African Union Commissioner of Social Affairs highlighted the fact that Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are one of the means by which young women and men can have jobs on the continent and thus curb unnecessary migration.
“The work starts here today, with AUDA-NEPAD’s launch of the 100,000 SME’s by 2021 for young Africans,” said H.E Sarah Mbi Enow Anyang, Commissioner of Human Resources, Science and Technology at the African Union. She added that, “This is the hope we are giving back to young Africans, [noting that] while challenges remain, the ease of conducting business across the continent is steadily growing.”
H.E Josefa Sacko, African Union Commissioner of Rural Economy and Agriculture acknowledged that since the 100,000 SME’s by 2021 initiative is demand driven, she definitely buys into it as she is a firm believer in taking action for solutions.
The campaign that was launched on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly on 26 September in New York, aims to leverage strategic partnerships, build ecosystems of efficiencies and test new ideas to move the needle on youth development. AUDA-NEPAD aims to contribute towards decent employment for Africa’s youth by supporting sustainable youth owned SME’s especially for young women.
More specifically, AUDA-NEPAD seeks to contribute to the African Union Commission campaign by focusing on building the capacity of young entrepreneurs, engaging various stakeholders to avail sustainable financial mechanisms including the establishment of regional guarantees funds for youth and women led SMEs.
AUDA-NEPAD recognises that SME finance is pivotal to the success of the Agency’s approach, by building the business skills set of young SME’s to enhance their formal business approaches in order to increase their access to finance. Also important to this is the networking that AUDA-NEPAD will facilitate to ensure regional partnerships are developed amongst young SME’s for regional trade, based on the opportunities that will be unlocked by the African Continental Free Trade Area.