The President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, has called on the federal government to embark on bolder measures to enhance the competitiveness of youths in order to match their peers on the global level.
Adesina who spoke virtually at the recently held Joshua Generation International Youth Conference, themed: “Living with a Purpose,” noted that with a population of 206 million people, out of which 70 per cent are under the age of 30 years, what Nigeria does with its youth will determine the future of the country.
He therefore expressed worry that Nigeria’s youths are currently 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.
Adesina pointed out that no minding several misconceptions about the youths it is still obvious that the greater wealth of Africa, and of course Nigeria, will come from the youth.
He said, “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.”
He added that the country must explore all possibilities to reinvent itself by focusing on the youth.
“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 recognised the importance of youth to the economy, stressing that this was why the bank created the Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Banks, as well as implementing a programme to support Africa’s youths in computer coding for employment
According to him: “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.”