Delegates attending the 2023 African Development Bank (AfDB) Group’s Annual Meetings in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, celebrated Africa Day on Thursday amid hopes for better prospects for the continent and its youth population.
The commemoration, which marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the African Union, allowed for retrospection by member countries on how the continent can surmount its challenges towards achieving prosperity.
Addressing the event, AfDB President, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, said the occasion must provide the impetus for the continent to rise, challenges notwithstanding.
“Africa should lift itself economically, financially, and politically to surmount every hurdle in its way,” Adesina said, stressing that the continent has abundant resources that, if well-managed, can help move it forward.
“We have great sunshine; we have water …we have 65% of the arable land left to feed 9 billion people worldwide by 2050. We have minerals and metals – 80% of the world’s platinum is in Africa, 50% of the world’s cobalt is in Africa, 40% of the world’s nickel is in Africa,” the Bank chief reiterated.
He said there must be consistent efforts to bolster peace and security to attract foreign investment and expand trade.
He called on political and business leaders to put resources at risk behind Africa’s young people, who he said, are very innovative.
“Africa has young people that can grow bigger than Bill Gates; that can grow bigger than [Mark] Zuckerberg,” Adesina said, adding that the youth’s potential is evident in the fintech industry, which they dominate.
Furthermore, Adesina cited various human capital support programs being implemented by the Bank to prop up startups. These include its YouthAdapt program, initiated jointly with the Global Center for Adaptation. He said the Bank is also setting up youth entrepreneurship investment banks across Africa to support young people’s businesses.
“Africa can have youth-based wealth, and to have that youth-based wealth, we need financial institutions around them,” he noted.
He then mentioned some celebrated African professionals who have excelled abroad in diverse areas, saying the African diaspora is replete with talent that must be attracted to play a role in the continent’s transformation agenda.
The event featured a panel of selected youth entrepreneurs from the continent who shared their experiences about the challenges they encounter while seeking financial support for their startups.
Thursday’s celebration showcased rich African culture through music and dance as proceedings were interspersed with traditional and pan-African pop music, drawing many attendees, to the floor.