Akinwumi Adesina pleads for more investment in Nigeria's youth

Akinwumi Adesina pleads for more investment in Nigeria’s youth

AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina has made a case for more investment in Nigeria’s youth, saying the investment is the key to the country’s progress.

“For Nigeria to be all that it can be, the youth of Nigeria must be all they can be”, Adesina declared on Saturday at the convocation lecture at American University of Nigeria (AUN).

“The future of Nigeria depends on what it does today with its dynamic youth population. This demographic advantage must be turned into a first rate and well-trained work force, for Nigeria, for the region and for the world.

“But 38.5% of Nigeria’s youth are unemployed. Lacking skills, economic opportunities, they are discouraged, angry and restless, as they look at a future that does not give them hope.

“We should prioritize investments in the youth: in upskilling them for the jobs of the future, not the jobs of the past; by moving away from so called youth empowerment to youth investment; to opening up the social and political space to the youth to air their views and become a positive force for national development; and for ensuring that that we create youth-based wealth.

“From the East to the West, from the North to the South, there must be a sea change in economic, financial, and business opportunities for young Nigerians.

“The old must give way to the new. And there must be a corresponding generational transfer of power and wealth to the youth. The popular folk talk should no longer be “the young shall grow”, it should, rather, be: “the young have arrived”.

Akinwumi noted the efforts of Nigerian youths in development of technology, referencing the Yabacon Valley in Lagos.

“Yabacon Valley has emerged as one of the leading tech hubs in Africa with between 400 and 700 active start-ups worth over $2 billion, second only to Cape Town.

“Andela, a global technology start-up based in Yabacon Valley, recently attracted $24 million in funding from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. The $200 million investment by Stripe (a Silicon Valley firm) in the local payments company Paystack, and $400 million into three Fintech companies in just one week in 2019 signals the huge potentials of Nigeria to attract global digital commerce and financial services.

According to him, his bank is working on a $500 million program, Digital Nigeria, which is being designed to help further transform Nigeria’s digital competitiveness and build on the incredible entrepreneurship of Nigeria’s youth.

The Bank is also exploring the establishment of Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Banks — financial institutions for young people, run by first-rate young bankers and financial experts, to drive youth-wealth creation.