ECOWAS VP urges Nigeria, others to prioritise youth entrepreneurship

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The Vice President of the Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission, Finda Koroma, has called for the creation of opportunities for youths to leverage Africa’s demographic divides.
Koroma submitted the Junior Chamber International (JCI) Nigeria Senate Association 11th Leadership Excellence for National Development (LEND) Webinar Series.

 

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Speaking on ‘Building Emerging Leaders for Africa and the Middle East,’ Koroma said the youths formed a critical part of the economic discourse in Africa, adding that statistics showed that the continent is endowed with sufficient human resources to develop its economies.
She lamented that African youths are faced with unemployment and underemployment, which limit their ability to realize their potentials, thereby exposing them to vices such as crime, violence, extremism, and banditry.
Koroma said small and medium enterprises (SME) provided the continent with a powerful tool to address youth unemployment. A youth-led enterprise can grow economies and create job opportunities.
This, she said, required significant investment in education, vocational skills, health, infrastructure, and information and communication technology (ICT) would turn the human resources into a capable workforce that could turn the wheels of the continent’s development.
“The time has come that all hands must be put on deck through the promotion of education and skills training as well as social confidence in our youths through unlimited access to investment and capital for their entrepreneurship development,” she said.
The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Simbi Wabote, said the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) opened up a new horizon for the continent in the next few decades, adding that the NCDMB was putting a strategy in place to get more entrepreneurs to deepen local content practice in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry.
He added that the NCDMB had developed initiatives to create a conducive business environment for entrepreneurs and employment opportunities. Its vision and the 10-year Strategic Roadmap aim to achieve 70 percent of Nigerian Content in the oil and gas industry by 2027.
Wabote expressed worry that Nigeria is gradually losing the means of keeping the youths engaged in productive activities, adding that all over the world, business enterprises, especially SMEs, are the backbone of all thriving economies, and Nigeria is no exception.
He said 96 percent of businesses in Nigeria are SMEs responsible for 84 percent of the jobs while contributing 48 percent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
The Minister of State for Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba, said a country that has change-makers in its Government would have better policies and implementation.
He said this is why the Government has engaged the youths to help determine their future, adding that the youths have been included in the 26 technical working groups developing the new national plan.
Agba added that the Nigerian economy is 90 percent private sector-driven, which also endeared the Government to include the organized private sector to lead the development plan.
Speaking at the panel session on the topic “Leadership, Youth and Regional Cooperation,” the Executive Director, Heritage Bank Plc., Dr. Jude Monye, who was represented by the Divisional Head, Products and Inclusive Banking, Dimitri Dike, said capital is a major challenge facing youths involvement in entrepreneurship, as almost 95 percent of the capital available today is debt.
He said looking to banks to finance entrepreneurs and youth start-ups is a difficult proposition because of the country’s lending regulations.
Monye noted that knowledge capital is missing, as many youths with certain academic qualifications practice the skills that come with it.
He said the country is migrating towards a digital economy. The Central Bank of Nigeria is initiating the digital naira but lacks the financial framework that supports that digital economy.
He said many of these youths would move in that direction of digital naira, adding that the country needs interventions that recognize the emerging economy and then find a financial framework to deal with it.
“How can we create the kind of financial system that extracts the value from what the youths are doing? We are looking to them to raise capital abroad. Can we find a way to provide that kind of capital for them here? Unless we find the right regulatory framework, in terms of education, financial provision, or infrastructure support, then we will continue to find and experience some of this restiveness among the youths that we see today,” he warned.
The Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Ade Shonubi, said the Government should include the youths in decision-making rather than impose certain rules and regulations.
He said financial inclusion or access is not the problem for the youths, as the government and private sector cannot provide jobs.
He said while SMEs have been seen as 90 percent of the economic activities, the youths should be allowed to thrive in their businesses as they contribute to cushioning the unemployment rate by providing jobs.
Shonubi said foreigners are taking advantage of the gaps in the country by establishing their businesses.
The Special Adviser to Lagos State Governor on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Investments, Solape Hammond, said Nigeria is estimated to be six years behind the 2030 realization of the SDGs, noting that the country is still not ready to achieve those goals even if the Government does everything that should have been done to achieve those goals by 2036,
She said Lagos state needs $20 million to $40 million a year for over nine to 10 years to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, despite having the highest state budget.
Hammond said there are many sectors that the youths are not capitalizing on, such as transport, security, and others, urging the private sector and individuals to help generate the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Lagos.
She said moving the economy forward requires galvanized actions through collaboration from the Government, private sector, and the youths.
According to the Vice President of the Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission, Finda Koroma, African youths should be allowed to harness Africa’s demographic divides.
Koroma made the presentation during the 11th Leadership Excellence for National Development (LEND) Webinar Series organized by the Junior Chamber International (JCI) Nigeria Senate Association.
When he spoke on ‘Developing Emerging Leaders for Africa and the Middle East,’ Koroma stated that African youths are an important part of the continent’s economic discourse. Statistics indicated that the continent has sufficient human resources to grow its respective economies.
Africa’s youths are suffering from unemployment and underemployment, which she said prevents them from realizing their full potentials and placing them at risk of falling prey to vices such as crime, violence, extremism, and banditry.
Koroma stated that small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) provide the continent with a significant weapon to address young unemployment, adding that a youth-led enterprise has the potential to build economies and create job openings.
She explained that this would necessitate significant investment in education, vocational skills, health, infrastructure, and information and communication technology (ICT), which would transform the continent’s human resources into a capable workforce capable of turning the wheels of the continent’s development forward.
“The time has come for all hands to be on deck in the promotion of education and skills training, as well as the development of social confidence in our youths, through the provision of unlimited access to investment and capital for the development of their entrepreneurship,” she said.
Simbi Wabote, Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) stated that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) had opened up a new horizon for the continent in the coming decades. He also noted that the NCDMB was putting a strategy in place to encourage more entrepreneurs to deepen local content practices in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector.
As part of its vision and 10-year Strategic Roadmap, the NCDMB has developed initiatives to create a favorable business environment for entrepreneurs and employment opportunities. According to the NCDMB’s vision and 10-year Strategic Roadmap, the goal is for Nigerian Content in the oil and gas industry to reach 70% by 2027.
Wabote expressed concern that Nigeria is gradually losing the ability to keep its youths engaged in productive activities, noting that business enterprises, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), are the backbone of all thriving economies, with Nigeria being no exception.
He claimed that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for 96 percent of all businesses in Nigeria and provide 84 percent of all jobs while contributing 48 percent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
According to Prince Clem Agba, Minister of State for Finance, Budget, and National Planning, a country with change-makers in its Government will have better policies and implementation.
He explained that this is why the Government has enlisted the assistance of youths in determining their future, noting that the youths have been included in the 26 technical working groups that are developing the new national plan for the country.
Agba went on to say that the Nigerian economy is driven by the private sector 90 percent of the time, which helped to persuade the Government to include the organized private sector in the development plan’s leadership.
During a panel discussion on “Leadership, Youth, and Regional Cooperation,” Dr. Jude Monye of Heritage Bank Plc., who was represented by Dimitri Dike, Divisional Head, Products and Inclusive Banking, stated that capital is a major challenge for young people who want to start their businesses because almost 95 percent of the capital available today is debt.
He stated that relying on banks to provide financing for entrepreneurs and youths start-ups is a difficult proposition due to the stringent lending regulations in the country.
Because many youngsters with certain academic degrees do not practice the skills that come with it, Monye believes that knowledge capital is lacking.
He stated that the country is transitioning to a digital economy, as evidenced by the Central Bank of Nigeria’s introduction of the digital naira. The country lacks the financial framework to support that transition.
He stated that many of these youths are likely to gravitate toward the digital naira and that the country requires interventions that recognize the emerging economy and then develop a financial framework to deal with it, among other things.
“How can we design a financial system that extracts the value from the work that young people are doing?” We are looking to them to raise capital in foreign markets; can we find a way to provide them with the same level of capital here in the United States? We will continue to see and experience some of the restiveness among the youths that we see today unless we put in place the appropriate regulatory framework in terms of education, financial provision, and infrastructure support,” he warned.
In an interview with The Guardian, Ade Shonubi, the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), said the Government should involve youths in decision-making rather than imposing rules and regulations on them.
He asserted that financial inclusion or access is not the primary issue facing young people because the Government and private sector are unable to provide employment opportunities.
He stated that while small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are considered to account for 90 percent of economic activity, young people should be allowed to succeed in their businesses because they help to reduce the unemployment rate by providing jobs.
Shonubi claims that foreigners are taking advantage of the gaps in the country’s infrastructure by setting up their own businesses.
Nigeria, according to Solape Hammond, Special Adviser to the Governor of Lagos State on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Investments, is estimated to be six years behind the 2030 realization of the SDGs, noting that the country is still not ready to achieve those goals even if the Government does everything that should have been done to achieve those goals by 2036.
Despite having the largest state budget, she claims Lagos State will require $20 million to $40 million per year for the next nine to ten years to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
According to Hammond, there are many sectors, such as transportation and security, that the youths are not capitalizing on. He appealed to the private sector and individuals to assist in generating the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Lagos.
She stated that for the economy to move forward, the Government, the private sector, and the youth must come together and take coordinated action.

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