The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Brazil-Africa Institute (BAI) have launched the Youth Technical Training Program (YTTP) - an initiative that aims to train young African professionals in research and technology transfer, contributing to local capacity development.
The YTTP initiative is sponsored under the South-South Cooperation Trust Fund (SSCTF) and will consists of an array of professional development schemes to meet diverse needs of African countries by utilizing Brazil's technology, skills and knowledge. Focus areas include agriculture and rural development, health, education, information and communication, infrastructure, and the creative industry.
As part of this initiative, both parties on Thursday, September 14, announced the commencement of training of African youth for rewarding careers in cassava processing.
The first batch of the YTTP training, which was flagged off at the AfDB headquarters in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, targets 30 young African professionals (between the ages of 18 and 35) of the cassava value-chain selected from 14 countries. The trainees will receive a two-month training on the production chain of cassava at the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA) - a state-owned centre in Brazil.
The cassava training initiative was launched in close collaboration with the Brazil-Africa Institute, the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).
Cassava is considered crucial to the food security of millions of people in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Most technologies developed in Brazil, especially those which relate to agriculture, are relevant for Africa. In addition, there is an increasing demand for Brazilian technology applicable to the African context.
Speaking at the launch of the YTTP, the Bank's Director of Agriculture and Agro-Industries, Chiji Ojukwu, explained that the first batch of cassava processing trainees would be for two months.
"The development of the cassava training programme is one of the many programmes of ENABLE (Empowering Novel Agri-Business-Led Employment) Youth Program of the AfDB. There will be more of such programmes to be developed with the Brazil Africa Institute," he said.
The President of the Brazil Africa Institute, João Bosco Monte, was optimistic that the trainees go back to their different counties with sound cassava production and processing training and skills at the end of the two months training.
Bosco Monte said the dream of his Institute was to work with AfDB to increase the number of participants for the cassava processing training to at least 300 in the coming years.
"This is just the beginning," he assured.
The Minister of Youth and Employment of Côte d'Ivoire, Sidi Touré, described the YTTP as important to Africa, stressing how the country would tap from the knowledge of Ivorian participants.
"I am optimistic that this programme will change the fortune of African youths," he added.
The Director General of the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Nteranya Sangina, urged the trainees to tap into the expertise available in Brazil and prepare to contribute to making cassava a crop for food security in Africa.
He recalled how, as Nigeria's Minister, AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina moved aggressively on import substitution with the use of cassava flour for composite flours in bread-making and confectionery industries.
"Brazil has several products processed from cassava. When you get to there, study and acquire knowledge of modern technologies as much as you can," he charged the 30 YTTP trainees.
"My dream is to have greater collaborations between young Brazilians and young African in the cassava processing sector."
In their speeches, Bright Okogu, the AfDB Executive Director for Nigeria and São Tomé and Príncipe; and Hiromi Ozawa, Executive Director for Brazil, Argentina, Austria, Japan and Saudi Arabia, highlighted the potential impact of the project on the relationship between Africa and Brazil.
"We are eager to have you come back to practice and teach your generation what you have learnt. Financial and technical assistance will certainly come as some point. Things are not what they used to be," Okogu told the participants.
"The YTTP feeds into the Bank's ENABLE Youth Program, which directly relates to two of the Bank's High 5 priority areas: Feed Africa and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa," Ozawa said.
"The focus of the first class of the YTTP on providing technical training for a cohort of young Africans operating in various stages of the cassava value chain, highlights the connection between these two High 5 priority areas."
Two of the trainees, Viviane Kacou of Côte d'Ivoire and Oyesiji Funmilayo of Nigeria, stressed how they would use the opportunity of the training to enhance their capacities and become role models for other youths in their respective countries.