When it comes to the promise of Africa growth, progress has become less a question of what can be achieved – and more a question of what can’t we achieve? Our potential as a continent is a living, growing force that is difficult to ignore.
What we cannot afford to ignore though is the work that needs to be done to turn potential into success. As a continent there is need to start initiating practical solutions to some of the more pressing challenges that have already had a hold on Africa for too long.
And unemployment needs to be first on the list. Looking at a sample of unemployment statistics from across Africa, it’s clear we have a long way to go.
In Kenya for example, the rate of unemployment recently hit a new high of 39.1%, according to the UN Human Development Index 2017. Meanwhile, Ghana’s graduate unemployment rate is also exceptionally high – the World Bank’s latest report on jobs in Ghana estimates that 48% of 15 to 24-year olds are unemployed. The current outlook in Uganda is also extremely troubling with 58% of people between 14 and 64 unemployed, according to the results of a National Housing and Population Census conducted by the Ugandan Bureau of Statistics.
The power of entrepreneurship
But the good news is that Africa is alive with entrepreneurial potential. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) provides a positive look at the total early-stage entrepreneurial activity (TEA) rate in a number of African countries. The TEA rate essentially measures the percentage of the population who are either nascent entrepreneurs or owner-managers of a new business.
There is little doubt that through the support of entrepreneurs we can have a positive effect on unemployment and working poverty rates. The EY Global Job Creation and Youth Entrepreneurship Survey 2015 revealed that 47% of entrepreneurs have plans to increase the size of their workforce.
But despite this, the job creation expectation rate for many countries in Africa still remains quite a challenge. In light of this, we need to start questioning whether potential business owners are being equipped with the skills they need to achieve true business growth – the kind of growth that will start having a positive impact on the economic outlook for our continent. Or more importantly, are we equipping our children to create job opportunities or simply to build careers?
It’s time to think big
If we are going to achieve the level of impact we seek, we need to think bigger than just the funding of small businesses and focus on creating a true culture of entrepreneurship.
It was greatly encouraging to receive feedback from Fredrick Kimeu, one of Samsung Engineering Academy students in Kenya who says the Academy came in handy for his development and nurturing of his hi-tech skills within the fields of electronics, technical and customer service support. Kimeu says having gone through the academy together with his colleagues; they were more equipped with both technical skills and customer service experience through the internship program. This enabled them to initiate a business that focused on service and solutions domain with key focus on business and customer satisfaction.
It’s because of our desire to create more stories like this one that Samsung has implemented similar initiatives all across Africa. From Nigeria to Ethiopia, Ghana and South Africa, our Engineering Academies and Technical Programmes are helping to develop young talent into skilled professionals and future business leaders.
Patricia Kingori is the Regional Head-Marketing, Citizenship & PR, Samsung Electronics East Africa