• Thursday, April 18, 2024
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Nigeria’s young population offers opportunities to shape global future of work – US envoy

Nigeria’s young population offers opportunities to shape global future of work – US envoy

Will Stevens, the United States of America consul general in Nigeria has enjoined youth to grasp the digital economy as nearly 70 percent of the country’s population stands at the forefront of shaping the future of work globally.

Stevens disclosed this at the launch of the Future of Work in Africa recently at the American Corner Lekki-Lagos when he said that the digital revolution is transforming industries, creating new job categories, and demanding a new set of skills.

“Nigeria, with its youthful population and dynamic energy, stands at the forefront of shaping the future of work not only in Africa but on a global scale.

As we navigate this transformation, our focus must be on education and skill development, ensuring that our workforce is equipped to thrive in the 21st century,” he said.

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The consul general recounted how Anthony Blinken, the U.S. Secretary visited Nigeria in January and was struck by Nigeria’s remarkable spirit of innovation.

He said that Blinken had a firsthand glimpse of some of the incredible innovative work that is being done by impressive young Nigerian entrepreneurs.

“One of them is helping businesses harness AI to automate operations. Another one uses virtual reality to help students learn when studies are hindered by natural phenomenon like flooding,” he noted.

As Secretary Blinken said: “No one place, no one people, have a monopoly on good ideas or innovation. It happens everywhere. And especially in this century, the true wealth of a nation, the true strength of society, will be in its ability to allow its human resources to flourish.”

Furthermore, he said; “In my nearly two years as consul general, I have travelled around this country and had the opportunity to meet with young Nigerians and listen to what matters to them.

And I am truly impressed by their ideas on how to build their country. Making that future a reality is going to take more than just talk. It will require a lot of hard work from young Nigerians who make up nearly 70 percent of the population.

Nigeria’s greatest resource is not oil, it is the Nigerian people. As the rest of the world grays, Africa blossoms with youth, and by 2050, one in four people on the planet will be African, a seismic change that is already beginning to take shape.

You can feel it in the creative industries, in music, films, and fashion. You can see it in the entrepreneurial drive of the average African youth. According to a recent New York Times article, “the world is becoming more African.”

The Africa’s working-age population will hit one billion in the next decade, that is the future’s global workforce!

He highlighted the fact that in today’s globalised world, all countries are looking to create an eco-system that will foster innovation in order to create jobs for their young people and ensure the future competitiveness of their economy.

He pointed out that digital technologies create exciting new opportunities and have the potential to place prosperity within reach for more people than ever before.

“The U.S.-Nigeria partnership includes significant investments in Nigeria’s tech ecosystem by American companies from Microsoft and Meta, and we are using the latest technological innovations to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges, in education, healthcare, agriculture, and other vital areas of development and economic growth.

“We gather here today because we recognise that the future of work is not just a distant concept; it is a reality that is rapidly unfolding before our eyes. The future of work in Africa hinges on our ability to embrace change and to adapt,” he noted.

In addition, he said; “The digital revolution is transforming industries, creating new job categories, and demanding a new set of skills. Nigeria, with its youthful population and dynamic energy, stands at the forefront of shaping the future of work not only in Africa but on a global scale. As we navigate this transformation, our focus must be on education and skill development, ensuring that our workforce is equipped to thrive in the 21st century.

At the U.S. Mission in Nigeria, we are deeply committed to supporting the aspirations and dreams of Nigerian youth as they navigate the evolving landscape of employment, innovation, and entrepreneurship. I am proud of the United States’ many contributions to this necessary transfer of skills and mentoring here in Nigeria.”

He reiterated that one example of U.S. commitment to supporting aspirations and dreams in Nigeria is the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE).

This programme he said combines mentoring and networking opportunities with a curriculum developed by one of the top U.S. business schools.

“We have seen 890 women entrepreneurs graduate from this programme since its inception in 2019. The successes we have recorded through this program demonstrate how targeted training can change lives, take small enterprises to the next level, create employment, and empower women entrepreneurs.

“Another way we support youth innovation, entrepreneurship, and creativity is through our network of 25 tech-enabled American Spaces across Nigeria.

“Each American space, like where we are here in Lekki, serves as a gateway to a wealth of resources, offering visitors the opportunity to learn essential digital skills, from basic computer literacy to more specialised courses on coding, digital marketing, and cybersecurity,” he said.