Africa's time to sparkle.

Author:Adesina, Akinwumi
Position:GUEST COMMENTARY
 
FREE EXCERPT

Africa can be a shining light in the world. We must work to leverage the continent's boundless optimism and unlock its potential. Africa must sparkle!

Africa is a resilient continent, developing and making giant strides, despite all the odds.

For way too long the continent has been known and defined by negative imageries, of wars and conflicts. The good stories of Africa get shelved on one side, but any misstep or challenge is made front-page news.

The greatest asset of Africa is not its vast minerals, oil and gas. Africa's greatest asset is its youthful population. Africa's youth population, currently estimated at 250m, is expected to rise to 840m by 2050. That'll make Africa the youngest continent in the world, as many parts of the world are witnessing rapidly ageing populations.

What we do with that population of youth today will determine the future of work in the world. Africa must become the brimming workshop of the world--with a knowledgeable and highly skilled workforce that's able to propel the continent into the fourth industrial revolution.

Today, millions of these same young people have no jobs and many take enormous risks to cross the Mediterranean to seek a brighter future in Europe. I do not believe that the future of Africa's youth lies in Europe; their future must lie in a thriving and more prosperous Africa. Our challenge is to ensure that Africa's economies grow more rapidly and in ways that create quality jobs for its teeming youths.

That's why the African Development Bank (AfDB) is pursuing a major 'Jobs for Youth in Africa' initiative, to help African countries create 25m jobs for its youth.

But we're not just focusing on the IT sector, the Bank is also supporting the growth of young agribusiness and commercial farmers for the continent. Africa has 65% of the arable land left to feed the world by 2050.

What Africa does with agriculture will determine the future of food in the world. But we must make agriculture exciting for the youth. That's why the Bank has invested $300 million in programmes to support youths to take up agriculture as a business.

I believe that the future millionaires and billionaires of Africa will come out of agriculture, the wealth of Africa, waiting to be unlocked to shine.

Africa's shining light

To shine, Africa must have universal electricity. Africa cannot develop in the dark. Some 600m Africans do not have access to electricity. That's why at the Bank we are investing rapidly to help light up...

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