The 6th EU-Africa Business Forum opened in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, on Monday, with an emphasis on job creation and investment in young people. The central theme of the Forum is “Investing in Job Creation for Youth.”
Speaking at a high-level forum on the theme, African Development Bank Group President Akinwumi Adesina called for a change of mindset when dealing with youth on the continent.
“Young people aren’t looking for help, they are looking for the right environment to flourish,” he said.
Noting that 66 million young people are idling away in rural parts of the continent without jobs, he said there was a need to take a risk and invest in them.
Investing in the youth in agriculture as a business is the way to go, he said, especially given that the average age of African farmers is currently 65 years in a continent which spends US $35 billion annually on food imports despite having 600 million hectares of uncultivated arable land.
“Agriculture is sexy, agriculture is cool. The farmers of tomorrow are not going to be wearing overalls, but will be young people equipped with digital technology to ply their trade. We must equip them appropriately,” said Adesina, the 2017 World Food Prize Laureate.
The idea that Africa has the potential to become the world’s bread basket if it does the right things, is the logic behind the Bank’s High 5 priorities – Light up and power Africa, Feed Africa, Integrate Africa, Industrialize Africa, and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.
Energy is the first priority because energy is required for almost everything people do.
Earlier, Côte d’Ivoire’s Vice-President, Daniel Kablan Duncan, opened the forum noting that the partnership between African and Europe would be the preferred tool to support Africa’s exciting development dynamics.
The central thread of the forum was job creation, the projected focus of the EU-AU Summit taking place on November 29-30 in Abidjan, where the European External Investment Plan (EEIP) will be formally launched and endorsed by the African Union.
There was a consensus that Africa’s shared development objectives cannot be achieved without strong investment by African governments, private sector and development partners such as the EU.