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Nigeria must tap diversity as pathway to greatness, economic prosperity -AfDB President

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***Nigeria’s youth must be turned into  first-rate and well-trained workforce

PRESIDENT of the African Development Bank  Akinwumi Adesina said there was a need for Nigeria to tap its diversity to  achieve greatness and economic development.

Adesina  said that positive exploits into the nation’s diversity would impact the human capital  development of the country while expanding opportunities for everyone, irrespective of whom they were or part of the country they came from.

Delivering a keynote address at the convocation ceremony of the American University of Nigeria in Yola on Saturday, Adesina said Nigeria’s diversity was not its problem, but the main issue was how the diversity was managed for economic growth and development.

Citing Singapore as an example of a country that has successfully managed ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity, he said diversity was a strength and not a weakness.

The continental development bank’s chief said  that  Nigeria’s future rested on what it would do now with its vibrant youth population.

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In a keynote titled, ‘Building a New Nigeria: Imperatives for Shared Prosperity,’ he said, “For Nigeria to be all that it can be, the youth of Nigeria must be all that they can be.”

He emphasised that Nigeria’s future development and growth hinged on transforming the country’s youth demographic advantage into a world-class and well-trained workforce for the country, region and world.

He urged stakeholders to prioritise investments in the youth, and upskill them for future jobs,  stressing the need for a shift from policies of ‘youth empowerment’ to ‘youth investment.”

According to Adesina, this would also help to open social and political spaces for youths to air their views,  become a positive force for national development and ensure the creation of youth-based wealth.

“From the East to the West, from the North to the South, there must be a transformative change in economic, financial, and business opportunities for young Nigerians,” the AfDB president told the large gathering.

“The young shoots are springing up in Nigeria. Today, Lagos has its own Silicon Valley. Yabacon Valley has emerged as one of the leading tech hubs in Africa with between 400 and 700 active start-ups worth over $2 billion, second only to Cape Town.”

Citing examples of entrepreneurial success among young Nigerians, he noted that
“Andela, a global technology start-up based in Yabacon Valley, recently attracted $24 million in funding from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

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“The $200 million investment by Stripe (a Silicon Valley firm) in the local payments company Paystack, and $400 million into three Fintech companies in just one week in 2019 signal the huge potentials of  Nigeria to attract global digital commerce and financial services.”

“The African Development Bank is currently working on a $500 million program, Digital Nigeria,  which is designed to transform Nigeria’s digital competitiveness and build on the incredible entrepreneurship of Nigeria’s youth.

“The Bank is also exploring the establishment of Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Banks- financial institutions for young people, run by first-rate young bankers and financial experts, to drive youth-wealth creation,” he told participants.

“Nigeria is blessed with incredibly rich diversity: of people, of cultures, of religions, of mineral resources, oil, and gas, amazingly rich biodiversity, that should make us the envy of the world.

“We are blessed with abundantly diverse agro-ecologies, which should also make us a land of bountiful harvests with the capacity to feed Africa…Nigerians deserve wealth, not poverty,”  he added.

Students from all around Nigeria, as well as international students from South Africa, Cote d’Ivoire, Rwanda, Cameroon, India, and Romania, make up the American University of Nigeria’s class of 2020 and class of 2021.

In his concluding remarks, Adesina urged the graduating class to make a difference in their spheres of influence, Nigeria and the world.
“I have a dream that we will arise, from our challenges, and build a more prosperous and united nation.”

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