Dr Akinwumi Adesina, President of African Development Bank (AfDB) has called on Nigerian youths to strive to acquire entrepreneurial skills so they can brace up to challenges of labour market.
Adesina made the call while delivering a lecture at the 13th convocation of Bowen University on Friday in Osun.
Adesina said that the call became necessary in view of the need to make graduating students of the institution become entrepreneurs, create businesses, employ others and not job hunters.
“Let’s talk about investing your talents through entrepreneurship. In my days at the university, you got a job immediately after you graduated. Your future was set.
“No longer. The graduate today is graduating into a world of uncertainty.
“Over 13 million young people enter the job market each year but only three million get jobs. Africa will have the largest number of youths joining the labour market by 2030 than all the world taken together,’’ Akinwunmi said.
According to him, the higher ground is not to depend on others to employ you. The higher ground is for you to be job creators. The key to that is entrepreneurship.
Adesina said there was the need for youths to persevere so as to be successful entrepreneurs.
“The key is perseverance, persistence in doing something in spite of difficulty or delay in achieving success,” he added.
Adesina also emphasised the need for universities to shift away from rote teaching into allowing students to experiment, try things, put ideas to work, and innovate.
He said “to do this, universities need to have structured institutional arrangements for supporting innovations.
“Developing patents is not enough. Patents must lead to business and that can only happen through supportive environments for them to thrive. Setting up university foundries is a good way to achieving this,’’ he said.
While identifying Nigerian women as very enterprising, Adesina said that young females deserved special entrepreneurship programmes to unleash their potential.
“Women are great entrepreneurs. Just take a look at women in Nigeria. They are very enterprising. Everywhere you look you see them hard at work. Women run Nigeria.
“No bird can fly with one wing. When women’s potential is fully unlocked, Nigeria will fly with two wings,’’ Adesina said.
He said that the AfDB was supporting entrepreneurship programmes in African universities.
“One example is the Rwanda Institute of Science and Technology, a collaborative programme on Masters in ICT, jointly with Carnegie Mellon University in the U.S.A.
“With 40 million dollars support from the bank, the school is world class. 100 per cent of their students get jobs even before they graduate, with many setting up their own ventures.
“Such is the case of Clarisse Irigabiza, a student who set up her own IT business, and sold it for 21 million dollars at the age of 27.
“What did the university do to help her? World class education, yes. But much more: exposure to entrepreneurship.
“Rwanda has set up with our support, the Rwanda Innovation Fund to support its young entrepreneurs.
“The university is linked to the Kigali Innovation City, a modern tech enabling hub linked to universities to help ideas grow, to turn ideas into innovations, and turn innovations into thriving businesses,’’ Adesina said.
He said that the agriculture sector was one of the important areas ripe for entrepreneurship.
“One of the young people in Nigeria I am very proud of is Dr Tope Aroge. I met him when I was Minister of Agriculture and provided him a grant of five million Naira. He is a medical doctor, now a farmer.
“You are wondering why did he change from being a medical doctor to farming? That is because you do not know that the size of food and agribusiness in Africa by 2030 will be worth one trillion dollars.
“Today, Tope has set up a high quality cassava flour/industrial starch processing factory which has a 6,000 tonnes capacity.
“He is an agricultural entrepreneur. Some of you should be like him.
“The future millionaires and billionaires of Africa will not come from oil and gas, but from agriculture sector. So, universities should move beyond agricultural science, to agriculture as a business,’’ Adesina said.