With a majority of African nations diversifying from traditional sources of income, entrepreneurship is increasingly seen as a key to economic growth. So far, entrepreneurship has yielded huge returns for entrepreneurs, and according to experts, there lies great untapped potential to drive the African continent into its next phase of development.
A study released in June 2015 by Approved Index, a UK-based business networking group, ranked Africa as among the top of the entrepreneurship chart. The Entrepreneurship around the world report listed Uganda, Angola, Cameroon and Botswana among the top ten on the entrepreneurship list.
The group sees entrepreneurship as a “necessity” at a time of high unemployment, saying: “When unemployment is high and the economy is weaker, people are forced to start small businesses to provide for themselves and their families.”
Entrepreneurship is seen as one of the most sustainable job generation tools in Africa.
Roselyn Vusia, a human rights advocate, points out that Uganda’s youth unemployment – estimated to be 83 percent, according to the African Development Bank’s 2014 report – is one of the highest in Africa.
Unemployment around the continent is also worrying. A 2013 study by Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank, found that African youth (15 to 24 years) constitute about 37 percent of the working age population. The same age group, however, accounts for about 60 percent of jobless people in Africa.
Kwame Owino of the Institute of Economic Affairs, a think tank based in Nairobi, says: High youth population, poor policy choices and a lack of comprehensive employment plans in many African nations precipitate the high rates of unemployment.”
Skills development focus
Vusia comments on one proactive approach: “The government of Uganda has implemented an entrepreneurship strategy that is focused on skills development, resource provision and access to markets. This seems to be bearing fruit,” she says.
The importance of entrepreneurship was underscored at the July 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) held in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, attended by US President Barack Obama, entrepreneurs from more than 100 countries and a group of US investors, among others.
Speaking at the summit, Obama lauded entrepreneurship for its promise for Africa with participants at the GES agreeing with him that entrepreneurship is one of the key ingredients in the toolbox to address youth unemployment in Africa, the region with the youngest population in the world. “Entrepreneurship creates new jobs and new businesses, new ways to deliver basic services, new ways of seeing the world – it is the spark of prosperity,” Obama said.
According to Evans Wadongo, listed by Forbes Africa as one of the most promising young African entrepreneurs, many African governments have not been keen on developing policies that will avert unemployment among the youth in a big way.
“Governments are not doing enough. The private sector is trying, but most goods brought into the African market are from China. This denies the youth the much needed manufacturing jobs, which are more labour intensive,” he says.
Kenya’s cabinet secretary in the Ministry of Industrialisation and Enterprise Development, Adan Mohammed, however, defends the policies of most African governments, saying that their efforts have been spurring confidence in the continent and are enabling more young people to turn toward entrepreneurship.
“Success breeds success – as many entrepreneurs make headway, others get on board. Also, technology-based inventions are pulling entrepreneurs,” Mohammed says. “The mindset has changed and many young people now think as employers. Many African governments have Âcreated opportunities in terms of finance and access to markets.”
Commenting on the increase in foreign investment and economic growth in Africa, Ugandan Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda says his government’s efforts to promote entrepreneurial culture have produced “remarkable results”. For instance, the state-run Youth Venture Capital Fund trains and provides money to young people with good business ideas. The government also helps young entrepreneurs to market their products.
Most importantly, with youth Âcomprising more than 75 percent of its population, Uganda has remodelled its education system to include entrepreneurship as one of the subjects of instruction in secondary schools and colleges.
Also, with the help of the private sector and development agencies, the government has established information, communication and technology innovation hubs, which help entrepreneurs to launch successful start-ups.
In Kenya, Eric Kinoti, the group managing director at Safisana Home Services, a company that provides cleaning services, hopes the government will follow Uganda’s example by creating an enabling environment to support entrepreneurship that can create jobs for youth.
“Many financial institutions in Kenya expect young people to provide collateral, yet only a few investors are ready to invest in young people’s ideas,” notes Kinoti, who mentors other young entrepreneurs and is listed among Forbes Top 30 under 30 in Africa.
Lack of access to working capital has hampered entrepreneurship in Kenya. Even though the government has created the Youth Enterprise Development Fund and Uwezo Fund to support youth entrepreneurship, budgetary constraints limit their impact.
“Entrepreneurship, if well managed, can create more jobs on the continent and increase the middle class, which is essential in sustaining economic growth. There is need to integrate entrepreneurship training in formal education in Africa to prepare the youth for the future,” Wadongo says.
In Cameroon, Olivia Mukami, the president and founder of Harambe-Cameroon, a social entrepreneurship organisation, insists that Africa needs to prioritise youth unemployment: “African countries are sitting on a powder keg and if they don’t change, it is going to explode.”
Mukami says that in addition to contributing to job creation, entrepreneurship can also help the continent solve some of the social problems that undermine progress. “I am encouraged that the government of Cameroon has prioritised entrepreneurship as a key pillar of Cameroon Vision 2035.”
Andrew Wujung, a lecturer of Economics at University of Bamenda in Cameroon, attributes the country’s entrepreneurship effort to its unique poverty reduction strategy. Unlike other countries in Africa, Cameroon’s poverty alleviation strategy is linked to entrepreneurship. Moreover, the government is organising robust skill acquisition and training programmes for entrepreneurs and making credit facility easily accessible to people with innovative technological and business ideas.
For entrepreneurship to strongly impact Africa’s economy, governments must tackle some of the greatest challenges that impede its progress, including lack of funds, relevant mentorship and poor government policies. In addition, African governments should consider giving the private sector incentives through tax relief to create more jobs. Laws and regulations should favour entrepreneurs.
Mohammed says Africa is on the right path. But to reap the fruits of entrepreneurship, effective strategies and policies are required to create more employment opportunities within small and medium enterprises.
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Rehabilitation of parks
The Umtshezi Community Parks and Street Cleaning projects involve the rehabilitation of community parks and planting of trees in and around Umtshezi local municipality. The projects aim to restore, enhance and rehabilitate open spaces, thereby maximising measures towards pollution mitigation.
Through the Umtshezi Community Parks Project, the DEA will build parking bays, plant grass and provide general landscaping as well as ablution facilities. In addition, existing fencing to the parks will be refurbished.
The Umtshezi Street Cleaning Project, which is implemented as part of the Department’s Working for Waste Programme, the DEA is making a colossal contribution to the municipality to carry out basic solid waste management operations. These include collection and safe disposal of waste, hence the purchasing of skip and concrete bins.
Thomson urged members of the community, as beneficiaries of these projects, to take ownership of the projects by ensuring that they are kept clean and well maintained.
The Mpumalanga water programme has provided water to a total of 24 villages in Bushbuckridge, benefiting 15 000 households in the municipality.
R298 million was spent on the programme, which was implemented in partnership with the Department of Water and Sanitation and Rand Water to provide water to rural communities with water shortages.
“A further R601 million is already being implemented as part of Phase 2 of the support to the municipality to benefit an additional 69 villages,” Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza said on Friday.
Speaking at the opening of the Mpumalanga House of Traditional Leaders, he said the provision of basic services such as water, sanitation, electricity and proper human settlements was key to improving the quality of lives in the country.
Premier Mabuza said municipalities have been tasked with ensuring that water supply is supplemented with boreholes within the next three to four months.
“Where boreholes exist but are non-functional, such boreholes shall be refurbished within the next three to four months in order to ensure that our people have access to water,” Premier Mabuza said.
The province has set aside R186.2 million to address backlogs for the electrification of households in the province for the 2015/16 financial year as part of the Integrated National Electrification Programme.
He said government was implementing the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme to create job opportunities for communities in rural and tribal areas while simultaneously providing food security.
Government had come up with the War on Leaks Programme, which is aimed at improving the sustainability of water supply.
“Youth development, through this programme, shall be key as those with minimum qualifications would not only enjoy access to job opportunities but would also benefit in our long-term skills development and refinement of technical expertise,” Premier Mabuza said.
He said the provincial government would continue to support, strengthen and capacitate all institutions of traditional leadership in the province to accelerate rural development, nation building and social cohesion within traditional communities.
“We will continue to provide capacity and equipping all our traditional leaders with the necessary skills to enable them to better manage, control and lead their councils with professionalism.
“Government will continue to support the capacity building programme for traditional leaders to empower them with the requisite skills and competencies to contribute to economic growth and community development programmes in our tribal communities,” Premier Mabuza said.
Source: All Africa
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