Africa’s young men and women entrepreneurs will positively change the narratives about the continent, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.
Prof. Osinbajo stated this today in Abuja at the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) Entrepreneurship Forum 2019 where he was keynote speaker.
Describing this generation as the smartest that has ever lived, the Vice President further urged young African entrepreneurs to positively change the “one-dimensional narratives of Africa” through their skills, enterprise and vision.
“Our continent continues to be defined by unsavoury and unwholesome stories, which do not often accurately represent the reality of life and opportunity. The people in this room are the perfect and long-awaited counterpoints to those one-dimensional narratives of Africa that have sadly gained ground over the years.
“Outside on the streets of every village, town and city are many more individual embodiments of the potential of Africa. But we can change that story. We must fund young entrepreneurs and provide opportunities for capacity building. Our school curriculums must emphasize not just stem but critical thinking and entrepreneurship. And the promise of entrepreneurship banks must be kept,” he said.
Highlighting some inspirational entrepreneurial stories from across the continent, Prof. Osinbajo noted that these stories represented a section of the huge potential for transformation on a continent’s “landscape emboldened by multitudes of young people who are refusing to wallow in self-pity or frustration, who have realised that conquering the challenges of their environments are the milestones for outstanding success; young men and women who have come to fully understand the transformational power of technology in the 21st century.”
The Vice President added, “Here in this room is a great representation of what the private sector can accomplish. It is also hugely inspiring to us as governments – and I am glad that a number of African governments are represented here – we are challenged to create the enabling environment for all of these young entrepreneurs to thrive.”
Commending the work of the Foundation, in compelling African governments to focus on its youth and their dreams, the Vice President further said, “And the message to Africa’s emerging business giants is a clear one: how and what you can contribute, like Tony Elumelu, to empowering the next generation, helping them – you, gathered here in this room – helping you write, rewrite and revise the next chapter of your continent-changing stories.”
The Vice President added that the world is waiting to see the exploits from Africa’s youth.
“We are holding our breaths for the incredible achievements you will make,” he said.
During the Forum’s dialogue session moderated by CNN host, Fareed Zakaria; with panelists including the Presidents of Rwanda, Paul Kagame; Senegal’s Macky Sall; Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) Felix Tshisekedi; and Uganda’s Prime Minister, Tuhakana Rugunda; the Vice President spoke on the steps taken by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to support budding entrepreneurs.
Answering questions from the participants, Prof. Osinbajo said the focus and drive of the Buhari administration in the past few years has been on supporting the growth of small businesses through investments in infrastructure and supporting technology adoption by small businesses.
According to the Vice President, “In the power sector, we have a willing buyer-willing seller arrangement that will bring in more investments into the power sector. By this arrangement, consumers are able to negotiate for the power they consume. We already have that in Ariaria Market in Abia State, Sabon-Geri Market in Kano, Sura Market in Lagos, and we are expanding to many other locations across the country.
“I am sure you would have heard the announcement of our collaboration with Siemens to take over the renewal of our transmission assets and some distribution assets and they will also undertake maintenance as well. So, we hope that things will improve considerably.”
“In technology, what we really need to do is to take care of the regulatory space. So, we have the entertainment and technology advisory council, we are looking at the regulatory space and ensure that we are able to keep it open and are able to keep it competitive so that technology companies can have more room to operate.”
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity