Entrepreneurship Key to Empowering Africa, Says Oluwatobi

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Hamid Ayodeji

The Curator, Hebron Startup Lab and Convener of the Edustart Conference, Covenant University, Dr. Stephen Oluwatobi, has stressed that entrepreneurship is vital in achieving a sustainable economy, especially for a country like Nigeria that has a large youth population.

Oluwatobi, said this while delivering his welcome address at the conference.

The theme of the 2020 conference which held recently at Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State, was: “Empowering Africa Through Entrepreneurship.”

The forum featured stakeholders from various sectors of the economy and was focused on tackling issues that had to do with developing the entrepreneurial among young Nigerians.

Speaking further, Oluwatobi said, “the high rate of unemployment is an indicator that there is an urgent need for a thriving entrepreneurial society

thereby, the government puts in place necessary infrastructures so as to leap frog economic activities of the continent.”

He maintained that, “Nigeria’s high population can be harnessed towards boosting economic growth as long as the various stakeholders effectively utilise the ocean of man power within its regions.”

On his part, the Chief Executive Officer, SLOT Systems Limited, Nnamdi Ezeigbo said, “Everyone has a role to play towards national economic development as well as sustaining it.

“There has to be an effective collaboration between the higher institutions, government and the industrial sector.

“The government needs to formulate policies that would enhance the operations of all the economic sectors of the country.

“In addition, higher institutions should teach courses that are

relevant towards grooming and empowering a generation of producers, rather than merely consumers.

“Entrepreneurship should be embedded in the curricula of the higher institutions so as to prepare the students ahead of what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.”

In his opening remarks, the Vice-Chancellor, Covenant University, Prof. A. Atayero, who was represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Akan Williams, said it was imperative that African governments and multilateral development partners evolve sustainable innovative strategies to exploit the huge manpower and market opportunities available in the continent, saying available statistics suggested that by 2050, Africa’s population would be 2.3 billion and the youth population had been estimated to reach 830 million.

While acknowledging ongoing efforts at encouraging entrepreneurship in Africa, Atayero said there was need for more incubator programmes and to smoothen bottlenecks to accessing finance.

“It is vital to recognise the enormous potential of young African entrepreneurs and inventors to create millions of high-quality jobs and stimulate inclusive economic growth,” he added.