Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria has stated that the realization of ‘Africa Beyond Aid’ can only be achieved through partnerships and youth mentorship.

He said that the Africa Beyond Aid agenda can only be achieved through partnerships and broader inclusiveness of the youth.

“The transformation of Africa lies in the power of the youth. To ensure an empowered youth, governments in Africa must do what is right for the youth; which includes equipping, educating, empowering and giving them skills to ensure that they all have employment,” he said.

The former Nigerian President was addressing delegates at the conferment and recognition ceremony at the 11th African Youth and Governance Convergence (AYGC) in Accra.

He was initiated as an eminent fellow of the AYGC.

Citing the example of a young Ghanaian farmer Nana Agyei Boafo who was also honoured for his involvement in the Agric sector as a role model to many young ones who aspire to be farmers, Chief Obasanjo also implored on the continent’s leaders to make agricultural business the centerpiece of our economic development.

“Another area that needs to be looked at critically is the agricultural sector,” he said.

“If we are going to have Africa beyond aid thriving, we must make it the centerpiece of our economic development,” he added.

He encouraged the youth to use Agribusiness as the centre of the value chain.

“For me the value chain starts from the point of developing equipment for land preparation, up to putting the food on the table. This is the whole value chain that can provide employment for many and make us independent in food production. We will be food secure, nutrition secure, increase our well- being and banish poverty,” he said.

“Africa has the youngest population in the world, with about 41 per cent of them below 15 years while another 19 percent are between 15 and 24 years; it is estimated that in 2055, the continent’s youth population aged 15 to 24 years, will be more than double 2015’s total of 226 million.

“However, the continent remains hostile to youth participation especially in areas of substantive politics and governance. There is a massive age gap between Africa’s youthful population and its leadership; according to a 2017 UNDP report the average is 62 years.

Chief Obasanjo also called on leaders and other stakeholders such as the Youth Bridge Foundation (organizer of the AYGC) to mobilize resources and guide the African and Diaspora youth with the potential and capacity to fully participate and influence policies that affect the continent as well as grow and build their aspirations in the right direction.

“As the Chinese proverb says, the journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step. I always say the first step in the right direction. If you are supposed to be going north and you go south, you are not going to get to your destination. Your first step must be in the right direction and what we are doing here tonight is the first step in the right direction,” he noted.

He thanked the AYGC for the honour saying, “This honour, I accept on behalf of the African youth, because it is to raise awareness and appreciate their worth and bring to the fore the dangers that may be looming ahead if we neglect our vibrant and dynamic youth.”