A sufficiently sizable labour force is germane to building a competitive economy and gaining a share of global trade and economy. This was the submission at the 2020 edition of the annual Lagos Business School Alumni Day that held virtually on Thursday, November 19.
Themed ‘Africa’s Economic Interests in a Changing Global Landscape’, the keynote speaker at this year’s edition of the conference, President of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), Professor Benedict Oramah delivered an extensive speech on the vast potentials that exist in Africa’s labour force and why governments on the continent must channel resources to building this aspect of the economy.
According to Professor Oramah, “Africa accounts for about 17 percent of world population with a young and dynamic labour force and African governments must begin to focus on the abundance of cheap labour as it is our greatest resource.”
He further advised that governments must “increase investments in research and development, support innovation and technology-related initiatives, and facilitate import of technologies that will boost manufacturing productivity and efficiency of trade-related services.” Professor Oramah added that these interventions should be accompanied by investments in human capital.
The conversation continued in a panel session moderated by Lagos Business School’s Entrepreneurship faculty, Dr Henrietta Onwuegbuzie. The panel comprised business leaders who represented various sectors including manufacturing, agriculture, finance and technology.
Deputy Managing Director, UK-Nigeria Infrastructure Advisory Facility, Obinna Ihedioha approached the conference theme from the angle of ease of trade across countries on the continent. Citing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) as a welcome opportunity, Ihedioha challenged African governments to connect the economic corridors in the continent. He also made reference to Asian economies, China and India, who have created “hygiene and discipline in how they activate the potentials in their countries”.
Other members of the panel include Founder/Chief Realisation Officer, Farmshoppe™, Cynthia Umoru; and Managing Director, Cadbury Nigeria, Oyeyimika Adeboye and Group CEO, Emerging Africa Capital Group, Toyin Sanni.
Sanni spoke on how the banking and finance industry is ensuring there is a shift in funding to other critical industries in the country. She added that the industry has an opportunity to fund and invest in human capital development to retool the young, tech-savvy population thus buttressing the points made by the keynote speaker.
Along the same lines, Umoru advised that the government and other stakeholders must develop the agricultural sector such that it attracts the youth. She said, “Agriculture should no longer be considered a retirement plan. So we must incentivize young people to take on agribusiness by encouraging them to use their existing skill sets and their knowledge of technology to transform the sector”.
This year’s edition of the Alumni Day was sponsored by the Global CEO 1 class. The event closed with the class president, Valentine Ozigbo expressing gratitude to everyone who participated, the Lagos Business School Dean, Professor Enase Okonedo and newly appointed President of the LBS Alumni Association and Publisher, Business Day, Frank Aigbogun.
The Alumni Day is one of the platforms LBS uses to ensure continuous learning for its alumni while also facilitating networking opportunities across the alumni association.