With its vast untapped resources, there is a lot of focus on the growth that Africa is currently making. 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 this potential into success. We must start driving practical solutions to some of the more pressing challenges that have already had a hold on Africa for too long.
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, 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 old young people are unemployed. The current outlook in Uganda is also extremely troubling with 58% of the people aged between 14 and 64 being 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. In Uganda this sits at 35.5% and in Ghana at 25.8%.
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 – compared to just 29% of larger corporations.
But despite this, the job creation expectation rate for many countries in Africa still remains quite low – in Ghana it is currently at 8.5% and in Uganda at 6.2%, according to GEM.
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.
And perhaps (even more importantly) is the question regarding whether we are equipping our children to create job opportunities or simply to build careers.
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.
Recently, one of Samsung’s Female Academy students in Ghana spoke about her own hopes to one day run a business. Comfort Pokua was raised by her grandmother after her parents passed away. Because she didn’t have the money for secondary education, the academy was instrumental in opening new doors for the aspiring entrepreneur.
On her journey, she says that she has learnt a lot about customer service and how to install and reassemble Samsung products. But most importantly, Comfort feels that she now has the skills needed to one day run her own company.
It’s because of Samsung’s desire to create more stories like this one that the company has implemented similar initiatives across Africa. From Nigeria to Ethiopia, Ghana and South Africa, Samsung’s Engineering Academies and Technical Programmes are helping to develop young talent into skilled professionals and future business leaders.
The culture of entrepreneurship can become more vibrant if it is inculcated among pupils in primary schools even as they pursue excellence in their academic studies.