The opportunities presented by Africa’s young and growing population were highlighted by all the speakers at this year’s Africa Business Conference which took place yesterday at Lagos Business School.
His Excellency, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, Ondo State Governor and Mohamad Darwish, Co-founder IHS Towers were keynote speakers at the just-concluded Africa Business Conference (ABC), an initiative of Lagos Business School’s MBA students which seeks to generate insights about trends and opportunities in Africa that would propel the continent to the forefront of advanced economies in the world.
Mimiko’s address focused on how the right policies will deliver economic growth. “We need to get it right because policy will determine the direction Africa will go” he told participants. Speaking on the topic, “Africa Rising: Leveraging the Power of a Younger Generation,” Mimiko said unemployment had forced many youths into crimes. He said, “Politically, it is expedient to widen political and economic space for African youths. Young people have largely been left out of recent economic growth in Africa and they are not faring better in the political sphere. Exploring critical opportunities for young people is perhaps the most pressing challenge for Africa.”
“Having many adults is good for any country or continent if its economy is thriving, but if jobs are in short supply it can lead to frustration and violence. Whether Africa’s demography brings a dividend or disaster is largely up to its leaders. With no obvious signs of population decline, Africa can tap into the immense talent and energy.”
According to Mimiko, all Africans should ensure that transparency and accountability reign supreme in Africa. He added, “Africa must set priorities. Despite the present unfavourable economic climate, African countries must do everything possible to build infrastructure that would drive growth.”
He concluded by emphasising the importance of inclusive growth in achieving economic development across the continent. “Equity and equality are what will sustain Africa’s growth and development” he said.
Participants at the conference broke into panels to discuss the impact of the changing demography on various consumer segments and sectors – Youth and Women, Manufacturing and Retail, Agriculture, Healthcare, Education, Creatives and Entrepreneurship, Energy and Resources and ICT and Infrastructure.