Diversity will ensure Nigeria’s economic prosperity — AfDB President

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Factual Pursuit of Truth for Progress

President of the African Development Bank, Akinwunmi Adesina, said Nigeria needs to diversity to achieve greatness and economic development.

Delivering a keynote address at the convocation ceremony of the American University of Nigeria in Yola on Saturday, Adesina said Nigeria’s diversity was not its problem, but the main issue was how the diversity was managed for economic growth and development.

Adesina said that positive exploits into the nation’s diversity would impact the human capital development of the country while expanding opportunities for everyone, irrespective of whom they were or part of the country they came from.

Citing Singapore as an example of a country that has successfully managed ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity, he said diversity was a strength and not a weakness.

The continental development bank’s chief said that Nigeria’s future rested on what it would do now with its vibrant youth population.

In a keynote titled, ‘Building a New Nigeria: Imperatives for Shared Prosperity,’ he said, “For Nigeria to be all that it can be, the youth of Nigeria must be all that they can be.”

Adesina emphasised that Nigeria’s future development and growth hinged on transforming the country’s youth demographic advantage into a world-class and well-trained workforce for the country, region and world.

“From the East to the West, from the North to the South, there must be a transformative change in economic, financial, and business opportunities for young Nigerians,” the AfDB president told the large gathering.

“The young shoots are springing up in Nigeria. Today, Lagos has its own Silicon Valley. Yabacon Valley has emerged as one of the leading tech hubs in Africa with between 400 and 700 active start-ups worth over $2 billion, second only to Cape Town.”

Citing examples of entrepreneurial success among young Nigerians, he noted that
“Andela, a global technology start-up based in Yabacon Valley, recently attracted $24 million in funding from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

“The $200 million investment by Stripe (a Silicon Valley firm) in the local payments company Paystack, and $400 million into three Fintech companies in just one week in 2019 signal the huge potentials of Nigeria to attract global digital commerce and financial services.”

“The African Development Bank is currently working on a $500 million program, Digital Nigeria, which is designed to transform Nigeria’s digital competitiveness and build on the incredible entrepreneurship of Nigeria’s youth.

“The Bank is also exploring the establishment of Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Banks- financial institutions for young people, run by first-rate young bankers and financial experts, to drive youth-wealth creation,” he told participants.

“Nigeria is blessed with incredibly rich diversity: of people, of cultures, of religions, of mineral resources, oil, and gas, amazingly rich biodiversity, that should make us the envy of the world.

“We are blessed with abundantly diverse agro-ecologies, which should also make us a land of bountiful harvests with the capacity to feed Africa…Nigerians deserve wealth, not poverty,” he added.

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