President William Ruto has appealed to African governments to address trade barriers hindering youth entrepreneurship.
The President said by creating a conducive environment for entrepreneurship, Africa will expand opportunities for its youth, transforming their ideas into thriving cross-border businesses.
He said African governments should strive to provide young people with access to capital, mentorship and opportunities.
“This can be achieved by simplifying business regulations, facilitating access to finance and promoting regional economic integration,” he said.
The President said Kenya is leading from the front having set up the Hustler Fund that has enhanced access to affordable credit in the country.
“The Hustler Fund has enabled more than 21.7 million Kenyans access resources to establish and progress their enterprises especially those at the lowest echelons of the socio-economic ladder,” he said.
The President made the remarks during the official opening of the Youth Connekt Africa summit held in Nairobi.
The event also doubled as the graduation ceremony of graduates from Arizona State University as well as those from Google Hustler Academy.
Present were Lesotho Prime Minister Sam Matekane, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, his spouse pastor Dorcus, Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba, Chair of the Council of Governors and Kirinyaga Governor Ann Waiguru and Rwanda’s Minister for Youth Affairs Abdallah Utumatwishima among others.
President Ruto affirmed Kenya’s support for the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which seeks to create a borderless market for African businesses.
“Kenya is in the process of eliminating visa requirements for African Countries as we strive to ensure the attainment of Africa’s Borderless Commerce,” he added.
The Head of State said innovation holds the potential to accelerate Africa’s development goals.
“To grow fast, we must deliberately focus on innovation to create fresh opportunities through the creation of new products, models and partnerships,” he said.
The President asked African youth to align their skills with the dynamics of the global job market that is shifting towards virtual and technology-driven roles.
The Government, he said, Additionally, has provided affordable access to technology through initiatives such as the Ajira Digital Skills Initiative to equip youth with the digital skills necessary for success in the modern economy.
“We are also building 1450 village digital hubs, to spur e-commerce, creativity and the digital economy and are also training the youth in digital technology and connecting them with jobs from around the world,” he said.
President Ruto asked the youth in Africa to take the lead in championing environmental protection through innovation.
“They must get into renewable energy, promoting sustainable agriculture and developing climate-resilient infrastructure,” he said.
He also advocated for the empowerment of youth as ambassadors of peace, cohesion and reconciliation for a peaceful and secure Africa.
Mr. Gachagua asked the youth to step up and take their rightful position in the leadership of the continent and champion its development.
“Not just in innovation and technology but all other spheres, including political leadership,” he said.
Mr. Matekane urged the youth to contribute more innovations to expedite the integration of the continent.
“We cannot ignore the power of technology and digitisation. Youth should innovate and come up with modern solutions that make us one continent,” he said.
Mr Ababu noted that the summit is the most ideal platform to champion the actualisation of the African youth charter.
“This is a forum that the African Union has designated and officially acknowledged as a platform where African youth can converge, dream and envision the Africa they desire,” he said.