African Youth Must Play a Central Role in Building the Continent, Says Gabriel Edgal

Bahamas, June 14, 2024

Africa’s youth must take an active role in shaping the continent’s future, urged Mr. Gabriel Edgal, Chairman and Group CEO of Oakwood Green Africa.

Speaking during the 31st Afreximbank Annual Meetings 2024 (AAM2024) in the Bahamas, Mr. Edgal highlighted the critical need for young Africans to be involved in decision-making processes that will define Global Africa’s trajectory.

The panel, titled “Building Bridges Across Generations: The Role of Youth in Shaping the Next Era of Global Africa,” brought together key stakeholders and thought leaders to discuss the importance of youth engagement in driving economic integration and innovation across Africa and the Caribbean. Mr. Edgal emphasized how the synergy between experienced leaders and youthful innovation can propel Africa toward a future enriched with trade, investment, and economic integration.

The AAM2024, hosted by Afreximbank, is an annual event that gathers leaders from around the world to discuss and strategize on enhancing trade and economic development in Africa. Afreximbank, the African Export-Import Bank, is a Pan-African multilateral financial institution mandated to finance and promote intra- and extra-African trade. This year’s theme was “Owning our Destiny: Economic Prosperity on the Platform of Global Africa,” and it featured participation from various industry leaders and stakeholders from across the continent, the Caribbean, and the diaspora.

Mr. Edgal stressed the need for African youth to be actively involved in sectors like trade, technology, and education. He advocated for a stronger emphasis on STEM subjects and ICT to prepare the youth for future jobs. Additionally, he highlighted the importance of leveraging AI and other emerging technologies to bridge the digital divide and foster innovation.

Mr. Edgal further highlighted the need for collaborative efforts to harness the skills and capital of Africans worldwide to drive development. For example, there are over 10,000 doctors of Nigerian origin practicing in the United States alone. “Imagine the impact if we could harness their skills and knowledge to address medical challenges in Africa.”

In the creative industry, African music, especially genres like Afrobeats, has gained global recognition. In 2022, the global revenue reportedly generated by African music reached approximately $140 million, with Afrobeats alone contributing over $100 million. This shows the immense potential of the creative industry as a revenue generator and cultural ambassador for Africa.

Mr. Edgal furher urged the youth to embrace the Global Africa concept and take initiative to make great things happen: “There is a Mansa Musa in every one of us,…” he said. “…just as Mansa Musa dared to explore the world and showcase Africa’s wealth and culture, today’s youth have the ability to break barriers and contribute to building the Africa we desire for generations to come.”

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