VP Osinbajo tasks African governments on environment for young entrepreneurs

Cyril Okonkwo, Abuja


Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo has challenged African governments to create enabling environment for the continent’s young entrepreneurs to thrive.

Professor Osinbajo stated this on Saturday at the Founder’s Presidential Dialogue, 2019 of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, TEF, Forum in Abuja.

Addressing an audience that included many African leaders and businessmen, the vice president noted that the Tony Elumelu Foundation represented what the private sector could accomplish if the right environment was provided.

“Here in this room is a great representation of what the private sector can accomplish.

“It is also hugely inspiring to us, as governments, and I am glad that a number of African governments are represented here, we are challenged to create the enabling environment for all of these young entrepreneurs to thrive.”

Osinbajo listed youth entrepreneurs in African countries whose lives have been transformed by the foundation and its various initiatives.

Among them were Botswana’s Mavis Nduchwa, “who trained for the hospitality industry, and went on to a career as a TV presenter, and is today a successful farmer with the goal of feeding her native country;” Nigeria’s Zion Oshiobugie, who was domestic servant but today “the proud CEO of a consulting company based in the same city where he started out as a domestic servant;” and Daoufhi of Morocco “founder of a 3-D printing company that produces affordable artificial limbs.”

Others were Cameroon’s Michel Nkuindija who “actually tells, and retells stories for a living through his company, Noohkema Game Studios, which develops video games that are based on traditional Africa myths and Uganda, Joel Cherop “a farmer, pushing the boundaries of agriculture using irrigation technologies, through the Atari River Integrated Irrigation Initiative Limited (ARII); Lino Alain Muniono of the  Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), who “used seed capital to start an architectural firm,” and Jose Kimoalou who founded Wapimed, a health tech company providing quality healthcare across communities in the DRC.

“In the age of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), there is perhaps no bigger or better opportunity to be exploring right now,” Osinbajo stated.

He said the thousands of the inspirational stories from the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme was not all representative of what could be harnessed from the African continent.

“A landscape emboldened by multitudes of young people who are refusing to wallow in self-pity or frustration; who have realized that conquering the challenges of their environments are the milestones for outstanding success—young men and women who have come to fully understand the transformational power of technology in the 21st century,” the Vice President explained.

Telling Africa’s story
According Professor Osinbajo the gathering in Abuja for the programme could be counterpoints of to negative stories often told about Africa.

“Our continent continues to be defined by unsavoury and unwholesome stories, which do not often accurately represent the reality of life and opportunity.

“The people in this room are the perfect and long-awaited counterpoints to those one-dimensional narratives of Africa that have sadly gained ground over the years.

“Outside on the streets of every village, town and city in Africa, are many more individual embodiments of the potentials of this great continent.

“But we can change some of the false and some of the true but unfortunate narratives of Africa,” he explained.

Emphasizing critical thinking
The vice president said there was need to emphasize entrepreneurship and critical thinking in African school curriculum.

He said this would complement science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Speaking at the event, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda said Africans must take it upon themselves to achieve development and prosperity by adopting the right attitude for wealth creation.

Speaking during the interactive session, the founder of the TEEP, Mr. Tony Elumelu, called institutions like the African Export and Import Bank, AFREXIM and the African Development Bank, ADB, to come together and see how they could improve intra-African movement.


Confidence Okwuchi