The key to Africa’s future: harnessing the power of youth, culture and the creative economy

Sarah Smith
Sarah Smith

Global Courant

The Wheatbaker, Victoria Island, Lagos, witnessed a memorable gathering of esteemed business leaders, influential African creatives, policymakers, digital champions and leading entrepreneurs from diverse industries last Friday. United by a shared vision, these exceptional individuals and bright minds came together to explore how Africa can secure its future by unlocking the power of its youth, culture and creative economy.

Organized by Africa Soft Power in partnership with the Ford Foundation, Open Society Foundations and African Women on Board, the event focused on the complex relationship between digital platforms, technology adoption, youth empowerment and creative entrepreneurship.

“As a country and continent, it is imperative to include young people and women in every leadership space. From #Endsars to #Congoisbleeding and other various social movements that the continent has witnessed in recent years, we have seen what happens when we fail to provide women and youth with the necessary inclusion and security,” emphasized Nkiru Balonwu, Founder and Creative Director of Africa Soft Power.

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“We will continue to have these conversations to shed light on the immense opportunities Africa’s soft power, deeply rooted in its vibrant culture and youthful population, offers for growth. As the advent of digital media and advancements in technology provide African youth with platforms to express their talents, shape their own stories and build successful careers across industries, we remain committed to fostering conversations that will help the continent capitalize on this growth potential,” added Nkiru.

Even though the creative and knowledge industries offer enormous opportunities for young Africans, threats still exist – and high on that list is insecurity. Security is an intersectional issue that affects everything from basic human rights, living standards, trade, prosperity, freedom of movement, access to education, gender equality, etc. The lack of security is one of the factors limiting innovation and economic growth in many parts of the continent.

LR Folashade Anozie, Founder and CEO, Nonconforming Productions; Njideka Agbo, founder and CEO Glann Media Consult; Hon Akintunde Oyebode, Commissioner of Finance and Economic Development, Ekiti State; Nkiru Balonwu, Founder and Creative Director, Africa Soft Power; Dr. Seun Fakorede, Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Oyo State and Adaora Ikenze, Director, Public Policy, Anglophone WestAfrica, Meta at the Africa Soft Power’s Securing the Future: Youth Power, Culture & the Creative Economy. Friday

The event included a panel session moderated by Folashade Anozie, founder and CEO of Nonconform Productions. Panelists and experts on the session include; Njideka Agbo, founder and CEO Glann Media Consult & Fmr. Editor, Guardian Life Magazine; Hon. Akintunde Oyebode, Commissioner of Finance and Economic Development, Ekiti State; Dr. Seun Fakorede, Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Oyo State and Adaora Ikenze, Public Policy Director, Anglophone West Africa at Meta

“You can’t solve the security problem if there isn’t fairness and justice.” Says Hon Akintunde Oyebode, Commissioner of Finance and Economic Development, Ekiti State. “A big driver of crime is lack of consistency. Therefore, you will find that in a society where there is no consequence, people often tend to crime.

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“The security challenge in Nigeria is a hydra-headed problem, there are major kidnappings going on in some parts of the country, there is a drug problem in other parts, but at the heart of it all is a clear recognition that the capacity of the state has been declining for some time now and has come to a point where it is simply not able to respond to social problems,” concluded Akintunde.

With nearly 60% of Africa’s population under the age of 25, the continent is proudly the youngest continent in the world. By 2050, the population is expected to double, positioning this growing youth demographic as Africa’s greatest opportunity for growth, innovation and sustainable development.

Njideka Agbo, founder and CEO Glann Media Consult & Fmr, editor of Guardian Life Magazine, claimed that the lack of security and inclusion is responsible for the brain drain in Nigeria and parts of Africa. “People used to be excited to come back to Nigeria, but that has all changed. In 2018, we were the 4th largest group of asylum seekers in the European Union, as more and more people move away in search of greener pastures, more opportunities and better security. The level of patriotism the young people show towards their country is determined by the level of appreciation they receive from the government, in addition to the security and inclusion the country offers them,” she added.

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Securing The Future: Youth Power, Culture & the Creative Economy was an important platform for both government actors and young voices from different sectors to engage each other. With global stakeholders rallying behind Africa’s ambition, it is imperative to recognize the fundamental role youth power and the creative economy play in building a prosperous continent.

The key to Africa’s future: harnessing the power of youth, culture and the creative economy

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