“When it comes to making the world a better place, talented young people are the world’s most important asset. That is good news for Nigeria, as it has one of the largest young populations in the world.”
– Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Recently, the Pan-African Youth Innovation Forum, curated by the Lagos Business School, Co-Creation Hub, and the Center for Communication and Social Impact hosted Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, for a hybrid event themed Unleash the power of youth and innovation at Lagos Business School. At the event, which was hosted by Bosun Tijani, a Nigerian-British entrepreneur and CEO of Co-Creation Hub, Gates provided valuable insight and expressed optimism about many aspects of the Nigerian economy.
- Advertisement -
Speaking about education and the role of youth in economic development, Gates opined that Nigeria is lucky to have some great educational and research institutions across the country and that it is something to build on. “When we think of young people, the topics of health and education are very important. And when it comes to making the world a better place, talented young people are the world’s most important asset,” said Gates. “That’s good news for Nigeria, as it has one of the largest young populations in the world.”
Speaking about talent, innovation and the startup ecosystem, Gates believes Nigeria is a hub for venture capital and financial technology. “As the world continues to innovate, it (the startup ecosystem) could become a great combination of both domestic and global innovation working together to improve lives in Nigeria,” he argued. He noted that creativity and entrepreneurship in all areas of the Nigerian economy are quite optimistic that despite all the huge challenges, “Nigerians would have a great future and bring great things to the world.”
Lend his voice to the global call for governments And stakeholders (including the private sector) to empower youth to build nations, the globally acclaimed philanthropist further stated that talent identification would be key to narrowing Nigeria’s major wealth gaps, citing examples of what young people Nigerians are doing in fintech. Before becoming a philanthropist, Gates was a technology expert. He is the founder of the technology giant Microsoft.
Other areas he touched on are health care for women and children and agriculture. He spoke of huge gaps in the healthcare and education sectors. According to Gates, maternal mortality rates and the quality of infant nutrition vary across the country.
“In some Nigerian states, women receive a lot of help during childbirth. But in more than 90% of states, women give birth at home,” he said. “We can have ambitious goals such as improving maternal health, making food more nutritious so that all children in Nigeria can reach their full mental and physical capacities. We can give women more options and empower them.”
- Advertisement -
In both cases, Africa is the second largest and second most populous continent in the world after Asia. Google estimates that Africa covers 6% of the Earth’s total area and is home to 20% of its land area. But the continent is a net importer of food. Last year, Nigeria imported N9 trillion ($11.5 billion) worth of food products, up 5% from the N2 trillion ($2.55 billion) recorded last year.
“Africa, including Nigeria, has great countries. There is no reason why the continent should not be the next exporter rather than net importer. With magical seeds and digital innovation, we can increase agricultural productivity. And that flows back to nutrition and health. In addition to education, it will also enable investment,” Gates advised.