The Dean, Lagos Business School, Prof. Chris Ogbechie joined the Co-Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr. Bill Gates, at the prestigious Youth and Innovation Forum held in Lagos on Wednesday, June 21, 2023 to engage young innovators and changemakers in Nigeria. The purpose of the forum themed ‘Advancing Africa: Unleashing the Power of Youth in Science and Innovation’ was to explore the boundless potential of Africa’s youth and harness their abilities to drive transformation.
In a session moderated by the CEO of Co-Creation Hub, Dr. Bosun Tijani, Prof. Chris Ogbechie and Mr. Bill Gates had an extensive discussion with the youths on how to leapfrog the continent using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to drive innovation across numerous critical sectors such as health, education, tech, manufacturing and governance. Bill Gates, famed for rallying together talented teams to deploy their expertise towards delivering impact, remarked that young people and innovators can make revenue while making impact, if they carefully apply their strengths, educate themselves and make contributions in the spaces they are most passionate about.
In his remarks, Prof. Chris Ogbechie said, “Lagos Business School believes in giving the youths a voice by empowering them with the skills and resources they need to innovate and compete in a global marketplace, and this forum aligns perfectly with Lagos Business School’s mission to educate, inspire, and empower the next generation of African leaders. LBS firmly believes the youths have the potential to unlock the possibilities of science and technology in Africa. It is common knowledge that Africa’s young individuals possess an uncommon entrepreneurial spirit, unparalleled resilience, and an ingenious creativity. It’s our duty to provide them with the necessary tools, knowledge, and platforms to thrive, and that’s what we are doing at the Lagos Business School with our various programmes, projects, partnerships and indeed, platforms such as these”.
Bill Gates, who shared his outstanding entrepreneurial journey from writing codes in high school to his days at Microsoft where he made global ground breaking innovations that reshaped our world, said “There’s going to be a lot of opportunity for you to continue to make a difference in the world, because of the unprecedented potential of new technologies. Even though Nigerians are still facing many of the challenges I talked about five years ago—and you’re having to contend with economic instability and security threats—I have a lot of faith that your generation will persevere and improve lives throughout Nigeria and beyond. When it comes to making the world a better place, talented young people are a powerful asset. Nigeria has one of the biggest youth populations in the world, and it’s growing fast.”
In his glowing tribute to Nigerian youths making an impact across sectors, he said “For young people to shine like this, they need support, starting with a great education. In this capacity, Nigeria has a strong foundation, with some of the best educational and research institutions across the continent. In Africa, Nigeria is a hub for venture capital and financial technology. There are also many exciting innovations in the global pipeline that are going to improve lives here in Nigeria. They’re going to prevent infectious diseases, provide life-saving interventions for mothers and babies, make food more nutritious… Down the road, artificial intelligence will be applied in ways that will bring quality health care and education to more people. In addition to the science and health sectors, I’m also excited by what I’ve seen in Nigeria’s booming creative industries”.
In sum, Mr. Bill Gates harped on the need to accelerate digital inclusion to create more access to financial products and services, close gender gaps, eliminate health gaps to decimate infant and maternal mortality, and most importantly, go beyond building products to building pipelines. He charged leaders across the nation to invest in equitable solutions—and invest in the people who are working on them. He also promised to see LBS’ Virtual Human Computer Interaction (VHCI) Lab, where our researchers are figuring out how virtual and augmented reality can contribute to solving the world’s problems, on his next visit.
LBS is confident in science and innovation as powerful catalysts for progress, addressing Africa’s challenges and the need for us to foster an ecosystem that nurtures innovation, encourages collaboration, and promotes research and development. It was a pleasure to have Mr. Bill Gates whose dedication to global progress and belief in Africa’s youths inspire us all. LBS is also appreciative of The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which Mr. Gates has stated remains committed to the future of Nigeria, partnering with individuals and organisations in Nigeria to deploy solutions across critical areas to improve lives and livelihoods. Together, let’s forge a brighter future for Africa!