By Asmau Ahmad
The African Development Bank (AfDB), has welcomed a contribution of €5.5 million from Italy for its Youth Entrepreneurship and Innovation Multi-Donor Trust Fund.
A statement on AfDB’s website, said Italian officials announced the new financing during the Fund’s mid-year Oversight Committee Meeting held virtually on June 26.
The team was led by Marco Rusconi, the Deputy Central Director for Development Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Italian Republic.
They reaffirmed the country’s commitment to fostering youth entrepreneurship and innovation in Africa.
“The Italian Government is proud to contribute to the Youth Entrepreneurship and Innovation Multi-Donor Trust Fund and to support African youth in their entrepreneurial pursuits.
“We believe that fostering innovation and creating sustainable job opportunities in particular for youth and women are crucial for inclusive and resilient economic growth in Africa,” Rusconi said.
According to the statement, youth unemployment and access to quality jobs are pressing challenges across the continent.
It said Africa’s unemployment rate stands at 8.1per cent, with youth being disproportionally affected.
It further said that Italy’s support would bolster initiatives aimed at promoting entrepreneurship and formalising enterprises.
“By focusing on youth-led start-ups and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, the Trust Fund seeks to create sustainable job opportunities and drive innovation.
“By the start of 2023, the Youth Entrepreneurship and Innovation Multi-Donor Trust Fund facilitated the creation of more than 68,500 direct jobs for youth in Africa.
“It improved access to financing for more than 6,600 micro, small and medium enterprises across the continent.
“The Trust Fund has also empowered more than 12,000 young entrepreneurs who have gone on to transform their business plans and contribute to economic growth,” it said.
Dr Beth Dunford, the Bank’s Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development thanked the Italian government for the contribution.
“We thank the Government of Italy for its unwavering partnership and generous contribution.
“This support reflects a shared mission to nurture and provide necessary business skills to African youth, while promoting entrepreneurship and innovation,” Dunford said.
The AfDB founded the Youth Entrepreneurship and Innovation Multi-Donor Trust Fund in 2017, to promote innovation and entrepreneurship and creates durable and sustainable jobs for youth on the continent.
The Trust Fund provides grants to support the Bank’s Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy programmes and initiatives.
The Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy aims to create 25 million jobs and equip 50 million youths with employable and entrepreneurial skills by 2025.