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Generation Unlimited: Elumelu joins partners to empower 100 million Sahel youths

The founder of Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) and Chairman of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Group, Tony Elumelu, on Monday joined other world leaders to launch what is tagged, “Generation Unlimited (Gen U) Sahel.”

The world leaders included the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Aminat Mohammed, chairperson of African Union Commission, Moussa Faki, among others

Simply called “Gen U,” the programme is an initiative that is aimed at maximising opportunities in the Sahel, towards equipping 100 million young people with the skills needed to thrive by 2030.

The Sahel region includes Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, The Gambia, Guinea Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal.

Mr Elumelu said his foundation, which has empowered thousands across the 54 African countries, is proud to be co-implementers for the Gen-U programme.

He noted that the foundation has funded 10,898 entrepreneurs across Africa, who have gone on to create further 400,000 direct and indirect jobs across the continent.

“In 2019, we partnered with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), to identify, train, mentor and fund 2100 young entrepreneurs in the Sahel region and this include Northern Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger , Chad, Cameroon and Mauritania.

“Again in 2020, we partnered with UNDP to fund and train 1860 young Malians, who face threats of conflicts, insecurity and poverty, as well as loss of livelihood from climate change through our intervention, we were able to create small businesses and generate economic growth in the youth, channeling their creativity and skills to transform the sahel region,” he said.

Mr Elumelu said the foundation is happy to be a global partner, noting that a “collective effort is needed to find a lasting solution to the intractable crisis by empowering and investing in the people, especially young ones in the Sahel to give them economic hope and opportunities”.

The initiative, which involves a huge partnership between the government, multilateral organisations, civil societies and private sectors from all over the world, was launched on Monday.

The UN official, Mrs Mohammed, who officially launched the initiative, said “the GenU Sahel is an especially important and urgent initiative as millions of people living in the Sahel face insecurity and serious challenges to sustainable development complicated by the devastating pandemic”.

She noted that “the Sahel is young with over 64 per cent of people under 25 and more than half are women and girls”.

“The United Nations stands with young people, the ongoing conversation between the United Nations and Young people of the Sahel launched under our integrated strategy for the Sahel are helping us to understand your priorities and hopes, so that we can integrate them into our support for the region.

“Young people’s few points and approaches are essential to making the Sahel peaceful, resilient and prosperous today and tomorrow. The security council resolution creating the UN integrated strategy for the development of the Sahel is focused on Women and Young people but it remains challenging to make tangible progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” she said.

Also speaking, Mr Faki said the African Union and UNICEF had made a commitment to intensify the initiative beyond this year, adding that the partnership is important in order to “federate synergy around the issues surrounding the young people”.

Jayathma Wickramanayake, the UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth emphasised on the need for inclusion for the success of the program, not only in the Sahel but around the world.

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