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AfDB Reaffirms Young People’s Role In Africa’s Sustainable Development

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – African Development Bank (AfDB) has harped on the integral role of young people in Africa’s sustainable development trajectory.  

AfDB’s Vice President for Power, Energy, and Climate & Green Growth, Dr. Kevin Kariuki made the observation in his opening remarks at an event organized on the side-lines of the recent 3rd Gobeshona Global Conference.

The event was put together by the Africa Adaptation Acceleration programme, (AAAP), a joint initiative of the AfDB and the Global Center on Adaptation to showcase its initiative aimed at harnessing the dynamism and leadership of Africa’s youth to drive climate adaptation innovation.

To buttress this, AAAP brought together participants in its YouthADAPT programme to share their experiences with the programme as well as strategies to scale up youth-led approaches to adaptation.

The third annual Gobeshona Global Conference, which was held virtually, focused on monitoring Locally-Led Adaptation (LLA) and resilience. 

Dr. Kariuki said the youth form the backbone of Africa’s population, constituting over 60 percent of the population, adding that the continent’s sustainable development hinges on harnessing this demographic dividend.

“The AAAP, through its YouthADAPT pillar, has so far supported 35 youth-led enterprises in 14 African countries with $3.5 million to drive climate actions in sectors such as agriculture, waste management, renewable energy, water and sanitation”, he said.

 YouthADAPT is one of AAAPs four pillars for accelerating climate adaptation. Its target is reach 10,000 African youth-led enterprises by 2025 and to promote innovation and inclusive growth for young people in climate resilient jobs and through youth enterprise development.

The AAAP’s other three pillars are Climate-Smart Digital Technologies for Agriculture and Food Security; the African Infrastructure Resilience Accelerator and the Innovative Financial Initiatives for Africa

While sharing her experience, the founder of Kimplanter Seedling and Nurseries Limited,  Caroline Mukuhi Mwangi said her company was already seeing the benefits of participation in the program. 

Mwagi added that Kimplanter provides drought resistant seedlings that boost food production and food security in Kenya. 

“We have ventured into new markets in semi-arid regions and expanded our seedling varieties, increasing our revenue by 36% as a result of AAAP support. Our customer base has also grown from 8,000 to 16,000 farmers and we have increased our staff from 17 to 32, all of whom are women or youth”, she further explained.

Similarly, the Program Lead of Jobs for Youth & Entrepreneurship at the Global Center on Adaptation, Aramide Abe confirmed that participating enterprises have already begun to show results.

She said some have seen revenues rise by up to 50 percent.  A fifth have ventured into new markets and have raised over $106,000 in additional funding from different sources.

Juveline Ngum, the founder of Bleaglee Waste Management Limited, a Cameroon-based start-up company using drone technology to tackle waste disposal, also stressed the benefits of participating in YouthADAPT.

“We have expanded our waste disposal management solution from west Cameroon into Douala, effectively using drones to detect clogged drainages and utilizing data for demand driven waste management. Now, we aim to expand across national borders into Dakar, Senegal”, she added.

A representative of  Cote d’Ivoire-based company, LONO and winner of the 2022 YouthADAPT challenge, Noël N’guessan’s has patented technology for the production of organic fertilizer.

The company has also introduced modular and mobile bio digesters for the agri-food sector. Biodigesters use microbes and other bacteria to break down organic waste including fat, greases, and even animal manure.

He however pointed out that challenges are still inherent, adding that the cost of prototyping hardware equipment can be prohibitively high, resulting in lengthy project development cycles. He pointed to financial management training as vital for youth-led businesses.

The session also featured presentations by African Development Bank partners and other global organizations that have rolled out similar initiatives to YouthAdapt.

Sandra Simbiri, Programme Specialist at UNICEF’s Generation Unlimited, Sandra Simbiri said: “Supporting entrepreneurs through STEM principles is key to preparing the young for technological innovations”.

On his part, Alfred Asiko, Senior Market Engagement Manager for the ClimateTech Programme at GSMA, a mobile technology association, said it has played a role in empowering youth to deploy such technologies as the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and blockchain to tackle climate challenges.

“Through our innovation fund, we offer grants to climate startups, with a focus on supporting resilient solutions that utilize frontier technologies. We also provide skills development and training to help entrepreneurs succeed in scaling their innovations”, he stressed.

Asiko also noted that venture capital (VCs) firms had a critical role to play as well. ”We need to see more VCs stepping up and taking over from development finance institutions (DFIs) in providing financing and support to youth-led businesses”, he further stated.   


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