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Cross-border partnerships that Put Africa’s Youth First

At the Business Luncheon in Nigeria with Alhaji Aliko Dangote and US Senate Delegation.


Today, my good friend Aliko Dangote and I co-hosted eight congressional members from the United States government, to a US-Nigeria business luncheon where we discussed exciting cross-border investment opportunities between our two countries, as well as important business enhancing policies to enable private sector growth.

The delegation was led by Senator Chris Coons and included Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, Senator Gary Peters, Senator Michael Bennet, Rep. Terri Sewell, Rep Lisa Blunt Rochester, Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Rep Charlie Dent.

Our two countries share a lot in common: We are both Federal Republics. We are multi-faith, multi-ethnic, liberal, progressive, and full of entrepreneurial drive and energy. Our youth are multi-talented and some of the most gifted in the world. Here at home, our young entrepreneurs are finding solutions to challenges not just facing Africa, but the entire world. They are hard at work seeking answers to local and global quagmires. I believe in business and entrepreneurship, and that the future of our continent to a large extent, lies in the hands of our young entrepreneurs.

As Senator Coons shared today, the Nigerians in the diaspora are not left out of this picture. The Nigerian diaspora in the United States is the largest, most educated and most successful.

The American delegation visited Nigeria not just to meet the business titans, but to feel the entrepreneurial zeal and pulse of our country, to engage with the young leaders of Nigeria, including those in Nollywood making films watched all over, building a film industry that rivals the best in the world, and other creative young entrepreneurs transforming our country and continent, one idea at a time with their innovative solutions and insights on how we can confront the challenges of tomorrow together.

As Senator Coons also said today, Nigeria is a young democracy but the challenges we face now, America has faced in the past. It takes time to get it completely right. I take comfort in this. Nigeria and the United States share similar values, aspire to similar dreams, and strive through similar challenges. Our two countries working together can empower our vibrant, optimistic and hopeful young people whose ideas and creative solutions will help make our world a better place. This was the single most resounding takeaway message for the US delegation.

Our youth demography is like no other – over 30 million banked, mobile and plugged in, forming one of the most desirable and creative clusters of young people in the world. But we owe these young people sustained support and access to opportunities. To drive inclusive growth, we must ensure that they participate in economic activities that ultimately lead to wealth creation and prosperity. We should strive to empower them in a way that they add significant value by creating innovative products and services, that enable them to generate their own durable wealth and create employment.

Above all, we must remember that poverty anywhere is a threat to mankind everywhere. To prevent our demographic boom from turning to doom, we must build cross border partnerships that prioritize our youth. I was happy to host the US policymakers today, and I look forward to a future where we engage in meaningful collaboration to support our young ones.


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