Gov. Diri’s Aide Urges Youths to Leverage on Africa’s $4.2 billion Cultural Economy

The Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State on Tourism, Dr. Piriye Kiyaramo, says the creative and cultural industries across Africa can generate around $4.2 billion revenue with a growth rate that outpaces other sectors on the continent.

He is accordingly urging young entrepreneurs to maximise the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Initiative.

Speaking as a special guest at the African Young Entrepreneurs’ Summit/Unveiling of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Awareness Campaign at University of Uyo (UniUyo), Akwa Ibom State, with theme: “Positioning the Youth for the Emerging Opportunities in AfCFTA”, Kiyaramo stressed the urgent need for the mass production of Africa’s cultural products.

According to him, Africa’s cultural economy can stimulate greater intra-African trade to achieve broader regional integration through Africa-driven cultural exchanges, programmes, and products, using the Afcfta as a the channel.

Kiyaramo maintained that with the launch of AfCFTA, the cultural economy of the continent which is one sector that should be given significant focus, given its potential to provide additional value to the economic growth and development of African countries, informing that AfCFTA will cover a population of 1.3 billion people and an annual $3.4 trillion economic output.

Governor Diri’s aide reiterated the need for the youth to look inwards to explore the many investment prospects that come with the continental free trade area initiative, describing AfCFTA as a pillar of Africa’s economy, saying that the continent’s identity lifeblood, lies in the unique and varied cultural sectors that abound in Africa.

While explaining the benefits of AfCFTA to young entrepreneurs,
Civic Society Coordinator on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Awareness Campaign, Mr. Udokop Nsima, noted that through its Youth Protocol, the AfCFTA recognises that young people can play a critical role in the achievement of the free trade zone by initiating youth-led initiatives in agriculture, financial technology, IT and in the creative industry.

“The AfCFTA will address the excessively high trade costs and steep tariff barriers in many countries that limit the potential of women and youth in the business sector, ultimately stifling economic growth and undermining the continent’s overall development.

“The benefits of AfCFTA to the Nigerian economy include: Larger market access, free movement of labor, goods, services and capital.
By eliminating barriers to trade in Africa, the objective of the AfCFTA is to significantly boost intra-Africa trade, particularly trade in value-added production and trade across all sectors of Africa’s economy.

According to Mr. Udokop Nsima, the awareness campaign will incorporate pageantry, soccer tournament, trade expo, fashion shows, cycling tours and mini marathons, among other promotional activities.

Also speaking, Vice President of African Women in Leadership Organization (AWLO), Akwa Ibom State Chapter, Mrs. Victory Johnson Ebong, said the summit was aimed at bringing awareness to the African female youth entrepreneurs to enable them participate in the global agenda and alleviate Africa from endemic poverty.

Mrs. Ebong explained that the African Women In Leadership Organization (AWLO) is an international non-profit organization with membership opened to all woman of African descent, bringing together female executives, professionals and leaders to further advance the leadership status of women in the continent, creating various platforms to empower and harness the synergy of the alliance.

“Africa needs to create a synergy within itself in building the continent’s food basket to improve food preservation standard which will enhance food security. The Continent is a resource material, a base in humans and mineral resources most sought for by the developed technological world, which means we should not remain a consuming continent of finished products, rather, become competitive participants with the technologically advanced west in the index of the source of our raw materials to the industry.

“As mothers and women, we find our roles as managers of the home very critical and vital, in this regard, it is required of us to equally contribute in adding value to the growth of the continental economy by initiating and coordinating this summit as a litmus test to create awareness on the potentials within the youth age bracket, particularly, the young women entrepreneurs as future mothers and wives, to tap into the investment prospects of the African Continental Free Trade Area.

“It is pertinent to note that the pillar of an African Economy and it’s identity lifeblood, lies in the unique and varying cultural sectors, such as entertainment, fashion, arts and crafts, cinema, visual and performing arts, culinary arts, sports, tourism, music and textiles among other service sectors.

“As an international Organization for women in Leadership we strife in good faith, demanding the best for the continent and her over 1.3 billion inhabitants”, Mrs. Ebong said.

Lead Discipler of Community Christian Fellowship Network, Pastor Kelvin Otung, in his remarks noted: “Positioning, is the strategic alignment of one’s self, product or organization for a purpose. Prosperity is directly proportional to one’s knowledge and understanding of the times. Hence the need for constantly educating one’s self, in order to be rightly positioned for every emerging opportunity.

“We started out trade transactions from the agrarian age. Trade was simply engaged by barter (exchanging goods for goods, or services). These agricultural products were our token of value at the time. However, as time changed, and we transitioned into the industrial age, the token for representing value also changed.

“We transitioned from the industrial revolution to the Technology age, otherwise known as the 3rd Revolution. Technology also brought about several changes in the way things were done, and how transactions occurred. With the changes and transition of these era, man also needed to change and adapt to the new ways of doing things.

“The new millennium brought about a new revolution, reshaping how businesses are done and how transactions of value are carried out. The 4th revolution with the emergence of the Internet of Things IOT and Artificial Intelligence AI, the Digital Currencies and Crypto Trading have redefined the marketplace globally.

“With the smart phone, one can engage the world and engage in commercial activities and make profit right from the comfort of their homes. To position the youth for emerging opportunities then, would require: educating through researches, training through practical engagements, funding new ideas and creativity as relates to the emerging opportunities through grants, constantly monitoring and evaluating the processes and progress made within the evolving trends.”

He stressed that the rewarding innovative products approach will encourage other youths in the community to embrace positive changes and make the best out of every opportunity, adding, “as we embrace diversities, and promote the cultures of education, research, training, funding of new ideas, monitoring and evaluation, and rewarding productivity; we would spore more youths to be rightly positioned to engage emerging opportunities”.

Law professor, Emmanuel Umana, while unveiling the logo of AfCFTA, said the theme of the summit, “Positioning the Youth for emerging opportunities highlights the importance of empowering young people to become leaders in their communities and to take advantage of the opportunities that are emerging in today’s world.

According to him, “as young people are the future of our societies and economies, and they have the potential to make a significant impact on the world, the summit provided a platform for young people to learn about new and emerging opportunities in various fields including technology, entrepreneurship, social innovation, and leadership”.

Umanah pointed out that the summit provides, an opportunity for young people to connect with like-minded individuals to share ideas and experiences, and build a supportive network.

“The logo and awareness activities are important because they help to raise awareness about the importance of empowering young people and positioning them for success.

In promoting the theme: “Positioning the Youth for the Opportunities in AfCFTA”, AWLO is helping to inspire young people to take action to pursue their passions and to become leaders in their communities.

“The summit was very important because it provided a valuable opportunity for young people to learn, grow and connect. This is an important step toward creating a brighter future for all and empowering young people to become agents of change in their communities and beyond. I say congratulations to AWLO for this outing”, Professor Umanah reiterated.

Director of Primary Health Care (Rtd) Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Health and Organizing Secretary African Women Entreprenuership Programme, Mrs Ekaette Collins Onuoha, on her part charged participants to take advantage of the lessons learnt at summit noted that one of the biggest advantages of getting started with entrepreneurship at a young age is the opportunity to learn important skills such as teamwork, networking, problem-solving, critical thinking, innovation, self-discipline, reiterating that all these skills can help in school performance and later in life.

“Nothing beats the freedom of being the boss. With freedom comes the flexibility to make your own schedule and not have to answer to anyone. You’ll also have the satisfaction of making your own decisions. Starting your own business can be risky, but with that risk comes a reward.

“New entrepreneurs are attracted to the idea that they can build something big from scratch, at least something bigger than what they could as salaried employees”, Mrs. Onuoha maintained.

Pioneer Chairman of Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) and Managing Director of Legacy Hospitality Development Company, Usen Udoh, assured that the in-coming administration of Pastor Umo Eno, will change for better where young entrepreneurs will have opportunities to do business with ease because of the favourable policies in the offing for the youth.

“I am convinced that the in-coming administration under Pastor Eno will lay emphasis in making strategic investments all sectors particularly tourism and hospitality that the youths of Akwa Ibom will benefit from, leveraging on the emerging opportunities through the platform of the African Continental Free Trade Area initiative.

“This strategy will position Akwa Ibom to grow the local industries and encourage export. A coherent state marketing plan can and will attract and retain investment and present a viable instrument in the state’s future prosperity.

“Thankfully, the people of Akwa Ibom have not taken the peace we have enjoyed in the last almost eight years for granted.

Peace as we know is the precursor of development. The people demonstrated this by electing our Golden Boy, the governor-elect in the person of Pastor Umo Bassey Eno to take the mantle of leadership on the May 29, 2023.

“Indeed it will not only be an hourly happiness experience by way of happy hour, but it will ussher in the most thrilling and enchanting moment of joy, peace and harmony in the land of Akwa Ibom.

“Understanding the governor-elect as a tourism icon and hospitality personified. He ignited magic in his private engagement at Royalty group of hotels. I am confident that he has the competence and passion to escalate the midas touch in the entire land scape of Akwa State, makes it a destination to be so desired by investors”, Udoh assured.

In his brief remark, Secretary of UniUyo Students’ Union Government, Unyime Samuel canvassed for the promotion of proficiency-based learning systems which provides opportunities for students to be the drivers of their educational experiences, increasing engagement as well as serving as intrinsic motivation as against placing more emphasis on paper qualifications.

Highpoint of the summit was the unveiling of Logo of AfCFTA by Prof Umana and cutting of cake.

Dignitaries that graced the event were a media expert and consultant, Uwem Akpabio, former chairman of Akwa Ibom Hotel Management and Tourism Board, Obonganwan Mary Umanette, Chief Magistrate Helen Umanah, Dr.Elisha Attai and Chancellor at The Eunice Thomas leadership Academy/Founder of The global Wo-Man-Ity initiative, Eunice Thomas.


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