By Chinyere Anyanwu
Nigerian and African youth have been identified as the next big phenomenon that will transform the sector after oil.
This was the submission of the keynote speaker at the recently held 5th Innovention Series organised by Verdant Zeal in Lagos, with the theme, “The Next Big Thing: Identifying Africa’s Untapped Potential.”
Speaking on the topic of his lecture,“Iyalaya Anybody: Pencils, Nigerian Innovation, & Africa’s Path in the 21st Century”, Professor of English/Director, Institute of African Studies, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, Prof. Pius Adesanmi, said, “the youth demographic is the next big thing. If you have all the resources and don’t pay attention to the youth, you’ll be making a big mistake. Africa has the largest youth demographic with great creativity.”
Expatiating the topic of his lecture, Adesanmi stated: “The confident perspective of the voice speaking in Agenda 2063 is an indication that the African continent is very much aware of a global scramble for a future powered by invention, innovation, genius, and entrepreneurial efflorescence; a future that will be determined and shaped by those who understand and position themselves as central players in a global growth and development scenario driven almost exclusively by competitive knowledge economies and economies of competitive knowledge. In this picture, Africa seems to be saying that she has a stake and an edge.
“In other words, the Africa Union’s Agenda 2063 seems to be beating its chest and saying “iyalaya anybody” to all the other agenda-setting texts and literature from Europe, North America, Asia, and the Middle East.”
Adesanmi, who lauded the fast development and ingenuity of the creative industry and entrepreneurial spirit of the youth of Nigeria and the African continent in the last decade, regarded this as an indication of their preparedness to take the world by storm.
He said: “All the texts agree that with the global shift from resources to human capital development, the youth demographic is the next big thing – the single most strategic key in creating prosperous societies of the future. Take the overwhelming emphasis on the youth demographic out of any of these documents and the lofty dreams, hope, vision, promise, and aspiration contained therein will collapse completely.”
Furthermore, he urged the continent not to leave the dissemination of information about it in the hands of the western world but to tell its own story by taking control of the media.
Speaking earlier in his welcome address, the Chairman, Board of Directors, Verdant Zeal, Prince Femi Oyewole, stated that this year’s edition was aimed at, “identifying and leveraging the untapped opportunities for collective progress bearing in mind that the dependency on oil, for Nigeria, is no longer a safe line to tow.”