Ibadan, Nigeria — The African Development Bank and partners such as such IITA, AAIN, CTA, are organizing an African Youth Agripreneur Forum (AYA Forum) to serve as a platform for aggregating agripreneurs across Africa and escalating the impact of their activities. The AYA Forum will comprise of the following: (a) the AYA Forum, a two-day Conference/Workshop with thematic discussions and presentation of success stories; (b) Agri-Pitch Entrepreneurship Competition that will lead to a selection of three finalists for presentation at the AfDB's Annual General Meetings in India in May 2017; and (c) side events including a mentor and incubator training program.
This conference and competition comes as an answer to the daunting challenge of youth unemployment in Africa.
Africa has the world's youngest population with about 60% of the population under 35 years old. Today, the majority of youth in Africa do not have stable economic opportunities. There are 420 million youth aged 15-35 in Africa. Of those who are not students, one-third are unemployed and discouraged, another third are vulnerably employed, and only one in six is in wage employment. On the other hand, the average age of farmers in Africa is alarmingly high (60 years) for a continent hoping to feed itself and to eradicate malnutrition by 2025. In the agriculture sector, lack of access to land, finance, markets, technologies and practical skills are barriers to youth participation. In addition, there is a perception among the youth of farming as an unattractive career path, which is characterized by hard labor, long hours and poor remuneration and scant social recognition.
There are existing opportunities to empower the youth into each stage of the agriculture value chain as "agripreneurs," by harnessing new skills, technologies and approaches. The result would be more jobs for young people, increased food production for a growing population, less reliance on food imports, and a healthier trade balance for African countries. The business approach to agriculture that the AfDB has committed to would help improve productivity, competitiveness and entrepreneurship among Africa's youth. The ENABLE (Empowering Novel Agri-Business-Led Employment) Youth Program has shown evidence that with greater access to the agribusiness enterprise youth can become the driving force of agricultural transformation in Africa. With the right skills, improved access to credit and an enabling environment, young African men and women can become the proud owners of profitable agribusiness enterprises. The success of young entrepreneurs can help address such serious social issues as the rural and transatlantic migration and soaring youth unemployment and curtail the associated risks to society.