From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
African Export-Import Bank (AfreximBank) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have promised to support any cause that will herald economic emancipation of the African youths, thus giving them more opportunity to compete in global arena.
Similarly, the Chairman, Cubana Group, Obinna Tochukwu Iyiegbu, stated that nobody can develop Africa apart from Africans, stressing that entrepreneurship needs to be at the core of the efforts to transform Africa at various levels.
Chairman, Board of Directors, AfreximBank, Prof. Benedict Oramah, who addressed thousands of youths that participated in 2022 youth summit organized by Grand Africa Initiative (GAIN), exposed the youths to lot of opportunities in Africa and beyond, and encouraged them to take up the challenge to make their mark in the comity of nations.
The GAIN youth summit which attracted over 3000 participants from 62 countries across the world had as its theme “The Africa We Want: Nexus Between the Youth, Peace and Entrepreneurship II”
Prof. Oramah who was represented by the bank’s Regional Chief Operating Officer-Anglophone West Africa, Mr. Eric Monchu Intong, congratulated GAIN for the excellent work it is been doing, especially with regards to entrepreneurship development and youth empowerment in Africa.
The Afreximbank boss called for the prioritization of more developmental programmes that would facilitate youth integration into trade value chains by both public and private sector players, as the solution to the problem of youth unemployment on the continent.
He emphasized that youth entrepreneurship and innovation are pivotal to the continent’s economic transformation, advocating that young people should be fully empowered, financially and otherwise, and also equipped with the toolkits to provide solutions to the challenges on the continent.
He said: “To maximize the AfCFTA benefits and to explore other opportunities in global value chains, African youths must be fully empowered to participate in cross border trade. Unarguably, they need tools to express themselves as entrepreneurs and equipped to innovate solutions to the continent’s socio-economic challenges.”
Acting Director of Private Sector Development at the ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Tony Elumelu, who spoke on migration and peace during the panel discussion, said that migration has become a way of life in Africa. “It’s not necessarily a bad thing but rather it depends on how it is handled and the purpose.”
He implored African governments to create a good environment for people to stay back in their country, as well as strong institutions to regulate mobility to ensure safety, thereby, giving Africans a ray of hope and reasons to stay rather than leave the continent.
In his contribution, the Chairman, Cubana Group, Obinna Iyiegbu, admonished African youths to focus less on the negatives and channel their attention and energies on what can be done right to improve on humanity.
He said: “Building the Africa we want will emerge when we leverage technology and innovation. African Government and leaders need to factor in youth participation and promote their involvement in the technology sector”.
Executive Director of GAIN, Chinwe Okoli, in her opening speech, stressed the need for youths to acquaint themselves with political and socioeconomic situations in Africa, stressing that such knowledge will provide baseline for creating new Africa that will be useful to all.
She said: “in the past three years, the GAIN youth summit has deepened the discourse and contributed to shaping policies around strategies to unleash the economic potentials of young Africans to build sustainable prosperity on the continent. Learnings from the previous summits resulted in the launch of GAIN entrepreneurship masterclass in 2021”.
She said that GAIN believes strongly that Africa’s development depends on the rate of youth development, and how GAIN in strong partnership with partners have trained and empowered young African entrepreneurs and will continue to do so.
She said: “In partnership with the Development Bank of Nigeria, we have trained young women entrepreneurs selected from the six geographical zones of Nigeria. And in partnership with Afreximbank, we have also trained young Africans from 29 African countries within 2022 alone and GAIN will continue to design and implement interventions in response to critical issues that affect African youths.”