Today the world celebrates International Youth Day. A very important day, according to the chair of ICCO Marinus Verweij, because young people are the agents of change. Especially in Africa, with half of the population under the age of 25, perspective is needed for youth. Making agriculture ‘cool’ again is one of the ways to do this.
20 million jobs needed
In 2050 the number of people living in Africa will have doubled. Of the total predicted growth in the world population (2.4 billion people), 1.3 billion will be born in Africa and the population will have an average age of 18. This entails enormous challenges for food supply, welfare and jobs. For example, every year 20 million jobs will be needed in cities and in the countryside in order for youngsters to create perspectives on a meaningful existence. Earlier I wrote about this in relation to the large scale migration from Africa to Europe and the Dutch cabinet formation.
Make agriculture cool again
The youth can play an important role in improving food security and make Africa even a a global player when it comes to providing the world with food. However, today, Africa imports billions of dollars’ worth of food each year, while the number of chronically undernourished children is still rising.
How can African governments, NGOs and companies tap the potential of the African youth? Innovations and investments are required to ensure that agricultural entrepreneurs make full use of their potential. This will also make the sector more attractive to young people. The president of the African Development Bank recently put it this way: “We must make agriculture a really cool choice for young people.”
Creating job opportunities
What is needed, is to create job opportunities for young people in Africa, to remove the causes of conflicts, to support innovations that help small-scale farm enterprises to develop and up-scale, to forge partnerships with companies and research institutes that want to find and help create incentives for new markets. ICCO is committed to this through our programs, for example AgriSkills4U or by helping young entrepreneurs in starting up their business. Because we believe that young people are the agents of change.
Webinar: engaging African youth in agribusiness
Africa can flourish by building on its entrepreneurship, and doing this with people who seek out and seize opportunities. It is against this background that ICCO, together with other organizations, have put together an online discussion forum to dialogue on the challenges and opportunities for engaging youth in agribusiness. Today, International Youth Day, is the last day of this online discussion and the input will culminate in a webinar on August 30.
Herewith I invite you to share your thoughts in the online discussion and to register for the webinar in order to have a fruitful dialogue!