The Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo has called for appropriate strategy crucial in transforming Africa into knowledge-based and innovative-led society.
Osinbajo made the call at the maiden edition of the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) Young CEOs Summit.
The event is with the theme “Leveraging Technology for Sustainable Commerce and Leadership for Young CEOs’’
Represented by the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mrs Maryam Katagum, Osinbajo emphasised that Africa’s greatest hope for continental development is its vibrant human resources.
“Young people make up the bulk of Africa’s total population with an estimated 75 per cent of the continent’s population below the age of 35.
“From a demographic point of view, this calls for a paradigm shift towards the recognition and support of young people to harness their potential.
“Therefore, to accelerate Africa’s transition to an innovation-led, knowledge-based economy, our human resources must be empowered with requisite skills, while greater emphasis must be placed on innovation, including appropriate adaptation of technology,’’ Osinbajo said.
He also emphasised the need to promote creativity and innovative technologies, to locally process the continent’s abundant resources in addition to creating more wealth and jobs for the continent.
While insisting on developing internal capacities and marketing new or improved products and services through engagement with end users, the Vice President said that the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology had been rebranded to meet future technology demands.
“This will create new opportunities for value added employment and the nation’s GDP will improve as a result of innovation and technological development,’’ Osinbajo added.
He expressed hope that Africa would continue to develop capacities so as to take advantage of relevant technologies to facilitate e-commerce and leadership excellence.
Osinbajo tasked youths to strengthen their leadership capacity through available technological means.
He said “leaders are expected to think creatively and facilitate the creative work of others, but traditional approaches to developing leaders have not fully addressed this need.
“A key problem with regards to developing creative and innovative leadership capacity is the low leverage of technology.
“Hence, young leaders must explore and leverage technology to strengthen their leadership capacity in organizations through available technological means such as e-mentoring, multisource feedback, social media, and succession planning programs,’’ he said.
He also reiterated Federal Government’s commitment to creating an enabling environment to facilitate the actualisation of innovative ideas developed by the youth.
According to him, the role of technology in Africa’s development is very critical, and what these new age entrepreneurs are doing is using technology to make commerce easier across board.
He also called for strengthened synergy between African nations and the youth to facilitate sustainable and inclusive growth and development within the continent.
“On our part, as a government, we shall continue to create the necessary enabling environment to support our youth to excel in every field of endeavour and I am convinced that with young CEOs like you, the prospects for Nigeria and Africa are bright,’’ Osinbajo said.
On his part, the President of ACCI, Dr Al-Mujtaba Abubakar described the importance of engaging youth in all aspects of the Nigerian economy as a default priority.
He said that the chamber established the Young CEOs category to amplify the voice of young business people.
“It was established to support young business owners through mentorship and capacity building.
“The Young CEOs membership cadre will amplify the voice of our young business people who hitherto, had no voice for mentorship, guidance, business linkages, and support,’’ he said.
While encouraging young business men and women to be part of the cadre, Abubakar said that the registration process was less cumbersome.
“As part of efforts to encourage young people to participate in the new category, we have made the registration process less cumbersome and also subsidised the registration fee to accommodate as many young businesspeople as possible.
“We encourage those that have registered to reach out to other young business minds so that they can also benefit from the Chamber because the future belongs to the youth of today,’’ he said.
Mr Fife Banks, Chairman, Young CEOs said that the summit was part of the strategic initiatives to engage widely with stakeholders across the public, private, development and diplomatic sectors to advance their collective thinking on topical issues.
According to Banks, it is to catalyse a collective move from ideas to action, from solipsistic point-of-views to inclusive policies, from politics of poverty to politics of prosperity thereby helping our beloved country fulfil its potential.
“Nigeria is replete with challenges but Young CEOs are not one of the challenges. In fact, we are the solution.
“Apart from the fact that Nigeria is indeed a nation of young people, majority of the non-oil income we have as a nation can be traced to the efforts of some young people somewhere.
“However, we are not just here to help the country make money or to make money for ourselves, or create jobs for other young people, we are here to also collaborate with policymakers and public office holders to help make meaning of the unprecedented changes the world is experiencing,’’ Banks said.