Africa should see the coronavirus disease as an opportunity to look inwards, tapping into existing trade agreements, manufacture locally for consumption and export, while prioritising the youth through job creation and empowerment were the submissions of Heirs Holding Chairman, Tony Elumelu, and former Nigerian finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
The call was made during a session entitled ‘Resilient World: An African Call for a New World Order,’ which had the United Bank for Africa chairman and former World Bank managing director as contributors.
They agreed that there was no better time to reset the continent by creating jobs for her teeming youth, empowering her ever-industrious women and investing in health and other infrastructure.
Elumelu said, “It is evident that if we can fix access to electricity, ensure the stability of the macro-economic environment, ensure prioritisation of the youth, empower our small and medium scale enterprises and fix youth migration, then we are in for a better and more resilient economy.
“There is an urgent need to prioritise our youths and empower our SMEs. The people who work hard need to be encouraged.”
Okonjo-Iweala called for meaningful partnerships between private sectors and the government to create jobs and empower youths.
“We can see this pandemic as an opportunity for the continent. We have the African Free Trade Agreement, and we have to make it real. We have to specialise our countries to manufacture the things we need, so we can trade with others.
“We need to produce good jobs for our young people. We need to empower our women and youths and put them at the centre. It is said that Africa would have the largest number of youths in the world by 2050, so we need to fix this,” she said.
Put together by the New York Forum Institute, the high level roundtable presented African leaders the opportunity to discuss practical ways the continent can revamp its economies post COVID-19.