By Lawani Akinyemi
In light of World Youth Day (a UN International Day) on August 12, this month Wecyclers looked into the impact of the youth on the environment. We sat down earlier this month with Mrs. Cynthia Saka, a waste management and recycling entrepreneur, to discuss this intersection of the youth and the environment and to get her thoughts and insights on this important issue.
Mrs. Cynthia Saka is the Chief Executive Officer of T. Cynthia Nigeria Limited. The company T.Cynthia Nigeria Limited started in 1989 as T.Cynthia Nigeria Enterprise, dealing mainly in cotton wools, caustic Soda and the supply of both industrial and petro-chemicals to companies such as: “33” now Consolidated Breweries, Ijebu-Ode, Ragolis Waters in Ikorodu, Beecham and Glaxo amongst others. With her vast knowledge and experience, she is going to be illuminating us in this interview on the impacts of the youth on the environment.
Lawani Akinyemi: How did you get involved in recycling and waste management?
I have been in the Industry for about 26 years. Initially I started with cotton in a textile company and in most textile companies’ plastic waste is easily generated. We would pick up the waste and send it to the grinding house as a result of that we gradually moved into reprocessing.
LA: The Nigerian Bureau of statistics put the current youth unemployment rate at 54%. How do you think the Nigerian waste and recycling sector can reduce unemployment rate among the youth and Nigeria as a whole?
In order to reduce the nation’s unemployment rate among the youth, the Government must first of all educate and empower them so as to encourage entrepreneurship and self-dependency. This will not only empower the youths but also boost the country’s economy.
LA: What strategies can the government and the private sector employ to reach youth who lack knowledge about recycling to teach them about its importance and combat the general ignorance about recycling that plagues the youth population in Nigeria today?
The government should create an avenue for seminars and workshops with the aim of enlightening the youth on the merits of environmental protection.
LA: From your experience in the recycling and waste management industry with your company, T. Cynthia Enterprise, what advice do you have for youth who are interested in starting up a company without much capital and probably no experience?
My advice to them is to start gradually and shun the habit of collecting loans from commercial banks that attract high interest. However, if the government can provide those loans with little or no interest it will go a long way in assisting them.
LA: Nigeria’s median age is 18.2 years old and approximately 43% of the population is under 15 years old. How does that affect the country and its economy as well as political prospects in the entrepreneurship field?
It affects the country greatly because, the youth are not well educated and lack proper facilities.
LA: What is the biggest problem today in regards to youth/youth unemployment in Nigeria?
There are not enough jobs for youth. Even the available jobs cannot be giving to them because of their apathy towards working. This is a technological generation that encourages laziness. Therefore job opportunities cannot be awarded to undeserving candidates.
LA: Any final comment?
The youth have a great effect on the environment so, the government has to do all in its power to enlighten them with the use of vocational trainings and not “white collar” jobs. The government should invest in Nigeria by providing facilities to empower them.
This interview was conducted by Lawani Akinyemi, a summer intern at Wecyclers. He is currently pursuing his Bachelor Degree in Mass Communication at Bowen University Iwo, Osun state.