The African Development Bank (AfDB) President, Akinwumi Adesina, has said that young people in Africa need access to skills, education and finance.

According to him, the future of the Commonwealth must be youth-driven and climate-resilient.

The AfDB president, speaking at the 2022 Commonwealth Business Forum in Kigali, Rwanda, said it was also important for everyone to have equitable access to vaccines.

Adesina was one of several high-level speakers on a panel at the event of Tuesday, 21 June, 2022.

The forum – a run-up to the official opening of this year’s Commonwealth Heads of State and Government Meeting (CHOGM) – is the first and largest in-person gathering for governments and businesses across the Commonwealth since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hosted jointly by the Rwandan government and the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council, this year’s business forum addressed the CHOGM 2022 theme, ‘Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming’, with a focus on a global reset, dealing with the pandemic’s impact and the Commonwealth’s role in rebuilding the global economy.

Across Africa, many people, particularly women and youths, are battling the economic downturn caused by Covid-19, losing jobs and seeing their education disrupted.

In a 2018 report, the AfDB noted that of the 420 million youths aged between 15 and 35 in Africa (at the time), the majority were unemployed, had insecure jobs or were in casual employment.

The continent’s greatest asset is its youth population. However, the majority of youths do not have secure work or economic futures.

It is understood that youth unemployment causes extensive migration from Africa as young people seek better lives and resources to provide for their families at home.

‘We have to prioritise young people in all our financing. We must create youth-based wealth. What the youth need is access to skills, education and finance’, Adesina said.

He also spoke of the AfDB’s ‘Job for Youth’ scheme and its ‘Coding for Employment’ programme, explaining that these programmes greatly contributed to youths becoming leaders.

The Commonwealth is home to a growing membership of 54 countries, covering 2.5 billion people, representing a third of the world.

Photo source: Paul Kagame

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