The President of the African Development Bank, Dr Akinwumi Adesina has called on the Federal Government to embark on bolder measures to grow its youth into a well-trained globally competitive work force.
He said this at the Joshua Generation International Youth Conference with theme “Living with a Purpose.”
As a nation, the AfDB Boss who was Nigeria’s former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development said the government must do everything possible to reinvent itself by focusing on the youth.
He expressed worry that currently, Nigeria’s youths are faced with several challenges, including unemployment, limited technical and vocational skills, limited inclusion in social and political space, and lack of financing for ventures and businesses.
With a population of 206 million people, out of which 70 pent are under the age of 30 years, Adesina said what Nigeria does with its youth will determine the future of the country.
Adesina said, “The greater wealth of Africa, and of course Nigeria, will come from the youth. I know there are several misconceptions about the youth. I don’t understand why, because I was once a youth myself.
“The youth are not the problem of Nigeria; the youth are the assets of Nigeria. We must not relegate the youth to the background; we must put the youth in the fore.
“As a nation, Nigeria must do all possible to reinvent itself by focusing on the youth. Yet Nigeria’s youth face several challenges, including unemployment, limited technical and vocational skills, limited inclusion in social and political space, and lack of financing for ventures and businesses.
Nigeria must embark on bolder measures to grow its youth into a well-trained globally competitive work force.
“The youth do not need empowerment. Look around, often those who say they are empowering them are actually simply empowering themselves.
“The youth do not need handouts. The youth need investment.”
Adesina further said the AfBD recognized the importance of youth to the economy, adding that this was why the bank created the Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Banks.
Through this, he said they will be financial institutions for young people, run by first-rate young bankers and financial experts, to drive youth-wealth creation in Africa.
He also said the African Development Bank is implementing a program to support Africa’s youth in computer coding for employment.
Launched in 2018, he said the Bank’s ‘Youth in Africa Coding for Employment Program’ has already equipped over 80,000 young people with ICT skills to enhance their employability in this digital era.
He added, “Huge opportunities exist for the youth in agriculture. You might wonder why? Well, consider this: the size of the food and agribusiness market for Africa will be worth a whopping $ 1trn by 2030.
“The millionaires and billionaires of Africa will no longer come from the oil and gas business, they will come from agriculture. Nobody drinks oil. Nobody smokes gas. But everybody eats food.
“Nigeria must ensure that poverty does not become the heritage of its youth. Today, Nigeria’s youth are largely poor, unemployed, underemployed and unhappy.
“Majority of them are in informal sector which accounts for 93 per cent of all employment. The high level of youth unemployment is at the core of the massive wave of insecurity being witnessed in Nigeria.”
He said while Nigeria’s youth have lost hope, huge opportunities exist for them.
“But it will take determination and unflinching resolve to succeed. Success will never be handed to you on a platter of gold.” he added.