AfDB helps Côte d’Ivoire train the next generation of agriculture entrepreneurs

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The African Development Bank's Agriculture and Agro-industry Department (OSAN) in conjunction with the Ministry for the Promotion of Youth, Youth Employment, and Civic Engagement of Côte d'Ivoire held a workshop at the Bank in Abidjan on 8 July to reflect on the imperatives for the successful implementation of ENABLE Youth-Cote d'Ivoire (CI).

One of the flagship programs of OSAN'S Feed Africa: Strategy for Agricultural Transformation in Africa 2016-2025, ENABLE Youth seeks to train the next generation of agriculture entrepreneurs, or "agripreneurs". The program, which is part of the AfDB's wider Jobs for Youth Program, seeks to build the capacity of young graduates between the ages of 18-35 to start businesses along the 18 priority value chains identified in the Feed Africa strategy. The Bank will work in close collaboration with the Consultative Group for International Agriculture Research to place young graduates in incubation centers where they will received skills training on the priority value chains. The graduates will then be provided with assistance in developing bankable business plans and obtaining financing to launch their enterprises. To further contribute to the success of the agripreneurs, the Bank will concomitantly work with its regional member countries to foster an enabling environment that clarifies land tenure, facilitates market access, creates incentives, eases regulations, and improves access to credit. In view of the 30 regional member countries, including Côte D'Ivoire, who have already expressed interest in the program, ENABLE Youth will seek to create 300,000 agricultural enterprises and 1.5 million jobs for youths across Africa over the next five years.

The workshop, attended by over 70 participants from Côte d'Ivoire's public and private sectors, civil society organizations, university and research centers, as well as various Bank departments, sought to build momentum and crystallize stakeholder ownership of ENABLE Youth-CI. The workshop included presentations, speeches and panel discussions.

In his opening remarks, OSAN Director, Chiji Ojukwu, underscored the incredible opportunities provided by the agricultural sector to address youth unemployment in Africa: the sector is not only the largest in the economy, employing over 60% of Africans, it is also the most important in terms of job creation. The Director also discussed the constraints faced by the agriculture sector, contributing to its low productivity including: underperformance along the value chain; insufficient access to finance; inadequate infrastructure; an unconducive enabling environment; and limited inclusivity, sustainability and nutrition.

For his part, Cote d'Ivoire's Minister for the Promotion of Youth, Youth Employment, and Civic Engagement, Sidi Tiémoko Touré, expressed his appreciation of the collective efforts made by the AfDB president, OSAN Director, and government ministers in promoting youth inclusion in Côte d'Ivoire. He also spoke of the high unemployment rates among the young in Cote D'Ivoire-three quarters of the unemployed are between the ages of 14-35-and the ageing rural population. The Minister then provided his takeaway and lessons learned from the ENABLE Youth design workshop which took place in Abuja, Nigeria from 22nd-23rd April 2016.

Mame Socé Sène, a member of the ENABLE Youth coordination committee, presented the ENABLE Youth concept. Agriculture consultant Mpoko Bokanga presented the summary outcomes of the Abuja workshop; while the Chief Agriculture Economist and task manager for ENABLE Youth-CI Nejib Kacem provided an overview of the Project Preparation Fund request submitted by Côte d'Ivoire.

In his closing remarks, OJukwu expressed his satisfaction with the results of the workshop, noting that it was one of many consultations that would take place to ensure a strong program design that will yield tangible results and strong impact. He reminded participants of the need for synergy and the pooling of both donor and public resources to ensure the effective implementation of the ENABLE Youth program. The Director also announced that in view of the need to involve young people in the design of ENABLE Youth, two young Ivoirians would be invited to participate in OSAN's Sharing Risk and Financing Africa's Agriculture Workshop scheduled from 12th-13th July 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya.