Grand Africa Initiative (GAIN) on the 28th and 29th of October 2022 held the third edition of its annual youth summit tagged GAIN Youth Summit 2022.
This pan-African summit had Prof Benedict O. Oramah, The President and Chairman, Board of Directors, African Export-Import Bank, Egypt as the keynote Speaker who was ably represented by The Afreximbank’s Regional Chief Operating Officer-Anglophone West Africa, Mr. Eric Monchu Intong. Guest Speakers at the summit include the High Commissioner of Namibia to Nigeria, H.E Mr. Humphrey Geiseb; Ambassador of Cote D’ivoire to Nigeria Mr. Kalilou TRAORE; Dr. Tony Elumelu, Ag. Director of Private Sector Development at the ECOWAS Commission, Nigeria; Caroline Njuki, Officer in Charge and Chief Technical Advisor Inclusive Jobs and Education, International Labour Organisation, Kenya; Mr. Eric Nges, Vice President, J.P Morgan, Germany; Mr. Obinna Iyiegbu (Obi Cubana), the Chairman and CEO, Cubana Group; Mr. Sam Itodo, Executive Director, YIAGA Africa, Nigeria; Mr. Ehia Erhaboh, Executive Vice President, Operations and Technology, Interswitch Group, Nigeria; Mr. Emmanuel Asika; Country Manager- HP Nigeria; Omni Channel Manager-HP ACE, Princess Adeyinka, Founder Happy Coffee, Nigeria; Rapitso Motsebesi, CEO Iconics Pty, Lesotho. Key partners for this year’s summit include the ECOWAS Commission and the Embassy of the Republic of Guinea in Nigeria.
The summit attracted over 3000 participants from 62 countries across the world.
The theme of the summit was “The Africa We Want: Nexus Between the Youth, Peace and Entrepreneurship II”
In his Keynote Address, Prof Benedict Oramah, the President and Chairman Board of Directors of the African Export-Import Bank, Egypt congratulates GAIN on the excellent work it is doing, especially with regard to entrepreneurship development and youth employment in Africa.
The Afreximbank Boss called for the prioritization of developmental programmes that facilitates youth integration into trade value chains by both public and private sector players as the solution to the problem of youth unemployment on the continent. He made this call while delivering the keynote speech at the summit. Prof. Oramah emphasized that youth entrepreneurship and innovation are pivotal to the continent’s economic transformation and so young people should be fully empowered and equipped with the tools to provide solutions to the challenges on the continent.
Oramah stated that “To maximize the AfCFTA’s benefits, and to exploit other opportunities in global value chains, Africa’s youth must be fully empowered to participate in cross-border trade. It is especially important that young people are given the tools they need to express themselves as entrepreneurs and equipped to innovate solutions to the continent’s raft of socio-economic issues. We must also ensure that youth perspectives are represented at all levels of the policy formulation process”
“It is, therefore, necessary for both public and private sector players to prioritize the development of targeted programmes that facilitate youth integration into trade value chains. Afreximbank, in playing its part, is committed to addressing the financing, technical capacity and market access limitations that currently impede the expansion of youth-led trade in Africa”
“Harnessing African youth and positioning this demographic as an engine for economic growth is the collective effort of all, therefore, we must rise to the challenge and ensure that Africa actualizes the potential that this constituency holds with regard to the development of our beloved continent”.
In her opening speech, Chinwe Okoli, the Executive Director of GAIN, stated that there is a need to understand the current situation of Africa as it provides the baseline for creating the Africa we truly want. Speaking on the impact of the summit so far, she stated that “over the past three years, the GAIN Youth Summit has deepened the discourse and contributed to shaping policies around strategies to unleash the economic potentials of young Africans to build sustainable prosperity on the continent.
“Learning from the previous summit resulted in the launch of GAIN Entrepreneurship Masterclass in 2021”.
She emphasized that GAIN believes strongly that the pace of development of Africa depends on the rate of youth development and how GAIN in strong partnership with her partners have trained and empowered young African Entrepreneurs and continues to do so.
“In partnership with the Development Bank of Nigeria for instance, we have trained young women entrepreneurs selected from the six geographical regions of Nigeria. And in partnership with Afreximbank, we have also trained young Africans from 29 African countries within 2022 alone and GAIN will continue to design and implement interventions in response to critical issues that impact the youth in Africa”.
Delivering His goodwill message, the High Commissioner of Namibia to Nigeria, His Excellency Mr. Humphrey Geiseb, commended Grand Africa Initiative(GAIN) for its work in bringing opportunities for business to African Youth.
In his words “Youth represent a rapidly growing segment of our population. It is important to provide an enabling environment, particularly peace and political stability to position the youth to play a meaningful role. Africa needs to mainstream the presence of young people’s voices and recognize their engagement and contributions”.
“Adequate development that involves the youth is needed to ensure that young people utilize their knowledge, youthful energy and resourcefulness to transform Africa’s raw material into value-added products. Youth innovation through entrepreneurship can indeed play a vital role to develop our continent”.
He highlighted the need for African youths to continue to deepen unity and cooperation across the continent on youth matters and that GAIN Youth Summit is an important platform to emphasize the potential of youths as partners in economic development and as key players in finding solutions to enable the youth to overcome the devastating impact of the pandemic”
His Excellency Ambassador Kalilou TRAORE, Ambassador of Cote d’Ivoire to Nigeria and ECOWAS while responding to the question on how leadership can steer the continent and countries therein in the right direction as a panelist on the day 1 of the summit said “Governance and leadership in Africa is about a clear vision and challenges we have to overcome to achieve our aspirations, So, we need leaders with transformational capacities to make it happen”.
Mr. Eric Nges in his response to a question on the kinds of leadership needed to propel Africa’s development said “Africa is rich in natural resources and a resilient population. He identified three(3) types of leaders which include: Visionary/Imaginative leaders, Inspirational leaders and Aspirational leaders” emphasizing the need for good leadership in Africa to drive the transformation on the continent.
Speaking on the panel topic Unlocking the potentials in Africa: The Leadership Question, the Executive Director, YIAGA Africa, Nigeria, Sam Itodo says leadership questions cannot be overlooked if Africa is going to achieve the 2063 goals; leadership is about taking responsibility and Africa needs leaders who will be proactive in taking responsibilities, leaders that care about generational equity, care about the future, care about the youths and also leaders who know when to leave the stage”.
He emphasized that young people are not asking the right questions and are not prepared enough to take over leadership roles in the continent. He enjoined African youths to widen their horizon and build alliances across nations and ages.
Dr. Tony Elumelu, Ag. Director of Private Sector Development at the ECOWAS Commission, speaking on migration and peace said In Africa, migration is our way of life and it is not necessarily a bad thing but rather it depends on how it is handled and the purpose. He implored African governments to create a good environment for people to stay and also strong institutions to regulate mobility to ensure safety thereby giving Africans a ray of hope and reasons to stay rather than leave the continent.
Caroline Njuki, Officer in Charge and Chief Technical Advisor Inclusive Jobs and Education, International Labour Organisation, Kenya, speaking on the same topic stated that “research has shown that people will migrate to where they find resources to sustain their livelihood. Africa is blessed with talents and supporting people with brilliant ideas to birth those ideas will undoubtedly transform the continent for the better”. It is high time African governments tackled the challenges of retaining talent in Africa as she identified access to capital for MSMEs as the biggest challenge.
Ehia Erhaboh, Executive Vice President, Operations and Technology, Interswitch Group, Nigeria speaking on the topic: The Imperative of Youth Entrepreneurship in Building Africa, said that “A lot is dependent on African youths to make sure to leave a better version of this present Africa. Youths should be problem solvers: constantly looking for opportunities to solve problems in their environment, Africa Youths should not wait to see things happen but they should make things happen. The Africa we want is in the hands of the youth especially youth entrepreneurs and as such youth entrepreneurship should be highly promoted by government and leaders in the continent”.
In his contribution, the Chairman, Cubana Group, Obinna Tochukwu Iyiegbu stated that nobody can develop Africa apart from Africans and Entrepreneurship needs to be at the core of the efforts to transform Africa at various levels. He admonished African youths to focus less on the negatives rather focus more on what can be done right.
“Building the Africa we want involves leveraging technology and innovation. African Government and leaders need to factor in youth participation and promote their involvement in the technology sector”. These were the words of Emmanuel Asika; Country Manager- HP Nigeria; Omni Channel Manager-HP ACE while speaking at the panel session on day 2 of the summit. He emphasized that successful entrepreneurs need to understand the importance of technology and innovation. He proposed that youth entrepreneurs should be educated on digital literacy and its importance to establishing a successful business and government and leaders should develop schemes and also promote digital inclusion in the continent.
Sharing their inspiring bold action as young African Entrepreneurs, Princess Adeyinka Tenekah, founder of one of Nigeria’s premier indigenous coffee franchises, Happy Coffee, shared her drive for building her business and creating a niche for herself in the agricultural sector.
Rapitso Mosebetsi, a Lesotho-born entrepreneur and social business innovator, Co-Founder & CEO of Iconics Pty Ltd, also shared his experience in building a business in the fashion sector. His business was hailed ‘Most Innovative & Versatile Exporter in 2022’ by the Lesotho National Development Corporation, USAID Trade Hub Southern Africa, and Lesotho Post Bank.
They both enjoined African youths to back up their dreams with actions and to see every problem as an opportunity to contribute to the development of Africa.
Grand Africa Initiative (GAIN) is a youth-focused pan-African non-governmental organization championing youth empowerment for development across Africa. GAIN is set up to help young Africans between 15 and 35 years old drawn from within and outside the continent, who are passionate about promoting entrepreneurship as a means to reduce conflict and promote peace and economic revival of the continent. GAIN programs include training, advocacy, mentorship, and youth events, designed to help achieve sustainable development by igniting the positive energy of the greater segment of Africa’s population – the youth.