“The youth are not the future; the youth are the present.” Dr. Akinwumi Adesina emphasized this while delivering the 14th convocation of Bowen University lecture titled; “Africa’s Future: Positioning University to Nurture Develop Entrepreneurial Initiative”. According to the President of Africa’s Development Bank, the millionaires and billionaires of Africa will not come from oil and gas but from agriculture. He advocated that the measure of the growth of countries of the world should not be limited to the Gross Domestic product since nobody eats GDP; rather, it should begin to be measured based on the contributions of the youths of a country to its GDP – a method he calls Y-GDP. This would make many countries to support small and medium-sized enterprises of the youth.
The Agricultural expert and technocrat said that one of the important areas ripe for entrepreneurship is the agriculture sector. The size of food and agribusiness in Africa will be worth $1 trillion by 2030. Therefore, the Nigerian government needs to pay critical attention to the Agricultural sector with emphasis on Youth empowerment to attain the premium capacity of its economy. Dr. Adesina gave some measures as a strategic road map for Nigeria to optimize her Agricultural sector, and they include the following:
Nigeria needs to set up a National science and Innovation Fund and set aside 20 percent of its earnings on oil to drive innovation for faster tech enabled growth. This would help to power the Nigeria of the future.
The universities should move beyond agricultural science to agriculture as a business because future millionaires and billionaires of Africa will not come from Oil and gas but from agriculture. The youths are not the future. They are the present. Hence, our collective responsibility is to prepare them to thrive for the future through entrepreneurship.
The education system should move away from raw teaching into experimentation. Students should be allowed to try things, put ideas to work and be innovative. To do this, our universities need well-structured institutional arrangements for supporting the development and commercialization of innovations.
The Governor of Osun State, Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola, represented by his deputy, Benedict Alabi reiterated the exigency of youth empowerment in the modern economy. According to him, “investment in youth is the solution to unemployment across the world as it would help to drive entrepreneurship initiatives which would serve as weapons for unlocking Africa’s potential and attaining its future”.