Akinwumi Adesina, President, African Development Bank, AfDB, could be a “Mr. fix it.” This ellipsis, few years past, trended in Nigeria’s political terrain in the negative. It referred to “fixing electoral processes” that led to emergence of candidates without due processes of legitimately electing candidates for public offices. Adesina is not involved in fixing electoral processes, but fixing economic programmes to enhance economic growth and development in Africa.
On the sideline of the 6th EU-Africa Business Forum in Abidjan, Wednesday, Akinwumi Adesina, launched Presidential Youth Advisory Group, PYAG, an initiative to create 25 million jobs. It would provides insights and innovative solutions for job creation for Africa’s youth as contained in the AfDB’s Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy, JfYA. The initiative would benefit 50 million youth over 10 years, by equipping them with right skills for decent and meaningful jobs.
Adesina said: “It is currently the largest effort going on for youth employment in Africa. This is a huge opportunity for Africa. If we fix the youth unemployment challenge, Africa will gain 10-20% annual growth. That means Africa’s GDP will grow by $500 billion per year for the next 30 years.’’
He said Africa’s per capita income would rise by 55 per cent every year to the year 2050, and identified Africa’s greatest asset as its youth. He said out of 13 million youths turned into the labour market yearly, only 3 million — about 33% of African youth — are in wage employment. The rest, he said were underemployed or in vulnerable employment.
His words: “The annual gap of more than 8 million jobs is going to worsen, with the number of youth expected to double to more than 800 million in the next decades. Africa has an unemployment crisis among its youth”.
Adesina said unless employment opportunities were created, Africa’s rapidly growing population of youths posed serious social, economic, political and security challenges. Africa’s youths, strong and dynamic, cross the desert or the Mediterranean Sea in search of decent jobs.
Adesina’s words: “Graduates are wandering in the streets, jobless. The low level of employment opportunities is also fueling violence and extremism in Africa. Forty per cent of African youths engaged in armed violence, join gangs or terrorist groups because of limited opportunities in their countries. Sixty-six million African youths earn less than $2 a day, less than the price of a hamburger”.
He was Nigeria’s Minister for Agriculture And Rural Development, 2010-2015, and laid the template for presently fixing agriculture for economic growth and development in Nigeria. He was named Forbes magazine African Man of the Year for his reforms in agriculture in Nigeria; and also appointed one of 17 global leaders to spearhead the millennium development goals in 2010.
September 1, 2015, Akinwumi Adesina assumed office as President African Development Bank Group, AfDB, after his election to that office, May 28, same year. He launched strategic vision for AfDB that is based on energy, agriculture, industrialization, regional integration and bettering the lives of Africans, and planed five regional centers to make the vision get to the grass root.
Adesina was among 29 prominent persons appointed by the UN in September 2016, as Lead Group of Scaling Up Nutrition Movement, in the fight against malnutrition in all its forms. October 21, 2017, he was awarded “World Food Prize, WFP Laureate”. He donated $250,000 prize money for the award to the development of African Youth in Agriculture.