Africa: The Forest of the Future
Earlier today, my dear colleague, Owen Omogaifo – MD of Transcorp Hotels, delivered the keynote address on behalf of our Founder, Tony O. Elumelu, at the 2019 Israel-Nigeria Agrinnovation Seminar in Abuja. The theme of the initiative was “No Room For Small Dreams”, with a focus on agriculture and technology.
Africa has historically been disregarded as a technologically inept jungle. This event was significant in mapping out our continent’s socio-economic development to date, as it spearheaded a dialogue on the immense benefits of technology to African agritech and food businesses. I commend the Federal Government of Nigeria for supporting the agricultural sector through initiatives that encourage our local producers and improve access to finance within the sector. The Central Bank of Nigeria has also provided funding support to our farmers and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. As a result of this collaborative effort, entrepreneurs in the Agricultural sector now enjoy targeted fiscal and industrial policies to improve their productivity and capacity. This is what the youth, particularly those in the primary sector, need to achieve sustainability and scalability in the new African economy.
At the Tony Elumelu Foundation, we also believe that investments to modernise agriculture will not only transform the lives of the poorest people on the continent but also strengthen Nigeria and Africa’s capacity to absorb the new wave of young people entering the workforce. In Nigeria-and indeed Africa, one cannot overestimate the importance of agriculture to the economy. Did you know that it is the highest employer of labour in the country, with two-thirds of the labour force employed in agriculture? This shows that it is increasingly important that we do what we can to break down barriers preventing our youth from developing innovative solutions to the problems that we face in our Agriculture sector.
If we get it right, the agriculture sector represents Africa’s greatest opportunity to drive inclusive, sustainable growth, and the only sector with the potential to lift millions out of poverty and forever change the continent’s path to development. Over the last 5 years, our programme has revealed that agriculture is the most sought-after sector: each year, over 30% of all applicants to the programme have been in agriculture. We must engage and support this interest that our youth have through sustained long-term capital investment in this space, we must get it right with agriculture! If we do this, we will all reap the benefits of a more prosperous Africa.
This story appeared originally on the TEF CEO, Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu’s LinkedIn blog on 11 December. See it here.