- IFAD President
April 21, 2016 By Victoria Saffa
President of International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Kanayo F. Nwanze, has stated that young people are key to rural transformation and poverty reduction in West and Central Africa.
He made this statement during deliberation at a major conference on investing in rural youth in West and Central Africa.
IFAD is a specialised agency of the United Nations dedicated to eradicating rural poverty in developing countries. It was established as an international financial institution in 1977 as one of the major outcomes of the 1974 World Food conference.
MR Nwanze noted that hopes and dreams for the future of Africa rest in the hands of young people, as they are the Africa’s greatest untapped resources, while it is their job as development practitioners to create outlets for their energy, creativity and initiative so that Africa’s young women and men can finally meet their potential.
“These young people have been called Africa’s youth bulge, though at IFAD we prefer to think of them as Africa demographic dividend. This dividend should yield great things for Africa, provided we invest now in creating the space and the conditions for our young people to take their energy and their creativity into the economic sphere, so that they can create jobs,” he maintained.
He explained that the benefit of rural transformation reaches far and wide as everyone stands to gain when there is a flow of goods, services and money between rural and urban areas, adding that by investing in rural transformation they could create a range of opportunities for young people in rural areas and not compel them to migrate to urban centres and big cities where they too often fall prey to divisive rhetoric and extremism.
“We can create a world where young people have something to gain, instead of a world where they have nothing to lose, a world where young people take up the tools for production, not arms for destruction. We need to offer these young women and men opportunities to build their lives and realise their dreams in rural areas,” he added.
The IFAD president continued that African governments have an important role to play by introducing policies that encourage investment in the agro-industrial sector at every point along the value chain and that these policies must encourage inclusive and transparent partnership so that poor rural people are not left behind.
He therefore called on young men and women not to sit at home waiting for the government to find them work, but to grab opportunities that come begging. “I have seen time and time again what young people can achieve through their hard work and determination,” he stated.