By Lucy Ogalue
Dr Akinwumi Adesina, the President Africa Development Bank (AfDB) Group, says it is time to create youth-based wealth that will support a more inclusive Nigerian economy.
Adesina said this at the Presidential Inauguration of the Investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises (I-DICE) programme in Abuja on Tuesday.
According to him, the initiative is timely, strategic, and transformative and will build the ecosystems to support more competitive entrepreneurs powered by digital technologies.
“Yes, we gather to inaugurate the initiative, but what we are really inaugurating is more than it. We are inaugurating hope for the youth.
“We are inaugurating platforms that will enhance the ability and capacity of Nigeria’s youth to thrive. We are inaugurating the creation of millions of jobs.
“We are retooling Nigeria to compete more in an increasingly digital world. We are creating hope for a new Nigeria, driven by the power of the youth,” he said.
The AfDB boss said that what Nigeria does with its youthful population would determine its future.
“It is time to create youth-based wealth for Nigeria.
“Youth-based wealth will rapidly expand the creation of jobs, expand the fiscal space with new sources of taxes, and support a more inclusive Nigerian economy, now and well into the future.’
“That is why, shortly after I was elected AfDB president, we inaugurated the Jobs for Youth in Africa strategy.
“We expect that the programme will create 25 million new jobs by 2026, focusing on practical and high-impact solutions,” he said.
According to Adesina, the future is here, and every aspect of life is digitally transformed. When you think digital, think global.
He said based on estimates, the digital global health size of Africa would expand from 217 billion dollars in 2022 to more than one trillion dollars by 2031, an incredible growth.
“The size of Africa’s digital economy will rise from 115 billion dollars today to 712 billion dollars by 2050.
“And most of this growth is already driven by four countries: Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, and Egypt.
Adesina said that several factors, including the rapid growth in the youth population, drove the expansion of the digital economy.
He said these digital trends hold great promise to help create massive jobs.
“For example, estimates by Endeavor (2022) show that expanding digital infrastructure by 10 per cent will lead to a 2.5 per cent annual growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Africa.
“Furthermore, expanding access to the internet in Africa from the current 33 per cent to 75 per cent can help create 44 million jobs, including three million jobs in online services by 2025,” he said.
The bank’s president said Nigeria was already witnessing the power of digital technologies, tools, and platforms.
According to him, Nigeria currently has five out of the 11 digital companies that has reached the status of unicorn with market valuation of one billion dollars.
He listed the companies to include Jumia, Interswitch, Opay, Flutterwave and Andela, mainly in fintech.
Adesina said Nigeria’s poor and fragmented cargo transport system was gradually transforming, thanks to Kobo 360, a digital logistics platform.
He further said in spite its growth, the country was yet to fully tap into and unleash the power of its creative industry.
“The I-DICE programme will help to fill some of these critical gaps.
“By supporting enterprise and skills development, access to demand-driven digital and creative skills, entrepreneurship skills, ICT enabled infrastructure and expanding access to finance.”
Adesina said the AfDB was pleased to partner with the Federal Government of Nigeria on the 618 million dollars I-DICE programme.
According to him, AfDB is providing 170 million dollars in financing to the programme.
“I am delighted that we have been able to mobilise additional co-financing of 217 million dollars toward the programme.
“I wish to thank our partners, the Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD), which is providing 100 million dollars, and the Islamic Development Bank, which is providing 70 million dollars.
“I also thank the Bank of Industry and the Federal Government of Nigeria for providing 45 million dollars in counterpart funding.
“Through the independent fund managers for I-DICE, the programme will raise an additional capital of between 131 million dollars and 262 million dollars,” he said.
While reiterating some of the. Bank’s initiatives, Adesina said it would soon roll out Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Banks.
According to him, the new financial institutions are expected to build robust financial ecosystems around the businesses of young people across Africa.
The Vice President Yemi Osinbajo formally inaugurated the programme. The event was attended by stakeholders, representatives of Co-financers, government officials, ministers and youths among others. (NAN)