The Federal Government, with financial support from the European Union (EU) and in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has launched the Jubilee Fellows Fund.
This is an innovative financing instrument that will enable a diverse set of stakeholders to support the roll-out and implementation of the Nigeria Jubilee Fellows Programme (NJFP).
The NJFP, launched in August 2021, is a government led youth employment initiative that will place 20,000 young Nigerians graduates annually with one-year paid work placements in private and public sector companies across the country.
A statement by the Acting Head of Communications, UNDP Nigeria, Alison Clement on Tuesday said there is critical need for diverse support and resource mobilization, beyond traditional public finance and international aid, to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and address some of the country’s biggest challenges, like youth unemployment.
She said the Jubilee Fellows Fund provides an opportunity for a wide range of stakeholders, including private sector, start-ups, foundations, international financial institutions, philanthropists and multilateral and bilateral donors to contribute funding towards the implementation of the NJFP, helping to provide a solution to the high rate of unemployment of young people across the country.
The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, in his written remarks, declared that:
“Youth unemployment continues to be one of the most ardent challenges facing Nigeria today. The Federal Government is working tirelessly to reduce unemployment through various policies that support existing businesses, encourage start-ups and build an efficient workforce.”
He added that: “It is my firm belief that the Jubilee Fellows Programme will provide a template for empowerment across the continent. It is a true testament to how collaboration between government, development partners and the private sector should work.”
In attendance at the high-level launched event in Abuja on Monday was Mrs. Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice President, European Commission; the Honourable Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Mr. Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo who represented His Excellency, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, the Vice President of Nigeria; the Honourable Minister of State, Budget and Planning, Mr. Prince Clem Ikanade Agba; Her Excellency Samuela Isopi, Ambassador at the Delegation of the European Union to the Federal Republic of Nigeria & ECOWAS; Mr. Matthias Schmale, United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator (a.i), United Nations in Nigeria and Mr. Mohamed Yahya, Resident Representative, UNDP Nigeria.
Ambassadors and high-level representatives from the United States, United Kingdom, Japan and Norway as well as EuroCham Nigeria and private sector leaders, were also present at the launch event.
During the launch of the Fund, the EU signed a development cooperation agreement of €55million with the Federal Government of Nigeria out of which €44million is earmarked for the NJFP.
The Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, Mrs. Margrethe Vestager declared “Our objective in this programme is to support the creation of new green and smart jobs for young graduates, including women and groups living in vulnerable situations. These are exactly the type of jobs we wish to promote under the new EU Multiannual Indicative Programme for Nigeria and under the Global Gateway initiative”.
The Fund will be managed by the UNDP on behalf of the Government and partners, and a Steering Committee comprised of contributing partners will provide strategic guidance and oversight on the direction and execution of the Fund. The Steering Committee will be supported by a high-level Advisory Group of private sector leaders which was also inaugurated at the event.
The Resident Representative at UNDP Nigeria, Mr. Mohamed Yahya, at the event said: “I want to call on everyone – from private sector leaders to the international community and the Nigerian diaspora – to accompany the development journey of young Nigerians and lend their support to the Fund as the success of the Jubilee Fellows Programme is our collective gain.”
He added that: “The homegrown talent we have here in Nigeria is immense and it is critical that stakeholders from all backgrounds collectively work together to provide the foundation for young people to flourish and thrive.”
The statement revealed that contributions will be received and administered by the UNDP in accordance with UNDP Financial Rules and Regulations and an online dashboard, tracking resource mobilization from public and private sources, is currently being established. The possibility for private individuals to contribute with donations to the Fund, via a crowd funding platform, will also be tested as part of the innovative financing model for the NJFP.
Meanwhile, the European Commission, Mrs. Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice President of EU at a press conference on Tuesday said Nigeria occupies an important place in the heart of European Union.
She said the importance of Nigeria accounts for the planned investment of at least €820 million in Nigeria’s digital transformation by the EU under its Global Gateway Initiative.
This comprises of the building the fiber optic cables and data centres needed to improve Nigerian’s access to high speech connectivity, European Investment Bank investing €100 million to expand secure 4G connectivity in Lagos and Ogun States and triple national data capacity.
She said the EU will support the digitalization of Nigeria’s administration to allow better and more accessible public services to citizens, European Investment Bank investing €250 million to strengthen Nigeria’s digital identity infrastructure with the highest data protection standards, among others