President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday called on other African leaders to create a more enabling environment for young entrepreneurs to thrive by enacting more friendly policies.
The President at the same time urged the youth to be more aggressive in business and acquire more information that can enable them to succeed.
He made the remarks when he addressed, through a video link, the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Forum held in Lagos, Nigeria.
The forum, one of the largest business meetings in Africa, brought together over 5,000 young entrepreneurs and representatives from government, policymakers, and the private sector.
President Kenyatta said the public and private sectors must join hands to enable the youth, who are Africa’s backbone, to realise their economic potential.
“It’s our job to help you, not to get in your way. So to properly support you, we, both the public and private sectors, need to come together and join hands,” said the President.
The forum was attended by President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana.
President Kenyatta said that those at the highest levels of governments in Africa have a central role to play in managing the youth demographic dividend to Africa’s advantage.
He said that young people are driving the development of the new class of entrepreneurs that African countries need to prosper.
“Young, innovative African leaders are fighting for positive change and using technology to enhance education and solve problems presented by poor services, lack of infrastructure, and in some areas in the continent, political stagnation,” said the President.
He said there is an urgent need to match skills possessed by the youth to opportunities and this entails paying closer attention to the actual labour market.
The President said Kenya recently reviewed its school curricula to make education more relevant to the needs of the youth and the country.
“In truth, the facts are clear: we need students’ who understand the working world, and we need smoother transition into higher education or vocational training. The education-to-work journey needs to be clearly laid out with spelt out activities targeting young people at specific points in the journey,” said the President.
The Head of State noted that Kenya also takes pride in its development of pro-entrepreneurial policies and partnerships.
He said the country has turned its focus to development of ICT infrastructure, leveraging of ubiquitous mobile platforms to build applications, creation of local content, building of human resource capacity, development of public-private partnerships, and creation of employment opportunities for the growing youth population.
“Kenya’s policy environment has slowly become a conduit for successful ICT development. Youth are often at the forefront in technology advances and innovation,” said the President.
At the same time, President Kenyatta hosted twenty young entrepreneurs affiliated to Nailab, an indigenous Kenyan innovation incubation centre, who briefed him on their activities.
The President encouraged the young entrepreneurs to be more aggressive and to seek more knowledge to help them take advantage of the existing economic opportunities especially in the delivery of the Big 4 Agenda programmes.
At this year’s United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York, President Kenyatta was given the role to lead a new UN intervention on youth education, training and employment dubbed the Young People’s Agenda (YPA).