Involving youth in agricultural development and decision making processes is key to ensuring sustainable development in Africa, and framing this within the context of ICTs and entrepreneurship provides a valuable dimension to the discourse of agricultural modernization and prosperity. Her Excellency Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture of African Union Commission, said this while officiating at a workshop held in Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia, 29 March 2012, on youth, ICT and entrepreneurship in agriculture, organised by Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Co-operation (CTA) and NEPAD E-Africa Programme.
Tumusiime noted that Africa’s population constitutes over 60 percent youth and 70 percent, people living in rural areas, of which, 40 percent are youth. She added that such statistics provide immense opportunities for improving agriculture and pushing the African continent forward.
“The current youth are more educated and learned, enterprising and ambitious. We can therefore reap the benefits of the demographic dividend and create a virtuous cycle from a healthier, better-educated and more economically productive and focused workforce, if this potential is well harnessed”.
She said there was urgent need to expand access to secondary and tertiary education, create and expand rural job opportunities, build capacity and promote entrepreneurship among the youth, and reduce migration to towns, and tap on any opportunity ICT can offer to support this objective, if Africa is to tap the opportunities provided by the current agile, dynamic and enterprising youth.
Mr Michael Hailu, CTA Director said that “Africa’s unemployment stands at 50 percent, who are mostly young people, and females. Modern information and communication technologies provide opportunities for creating jobs and entreneurship for the youth. CTA will continue to support activities that encourage youth in ACP countries to consider agriculture as a viable career path, including seizing ICT opportunities in that framework”.He also said young people are spearheading ICT applications in agriculture, even in Africa. Some of those innovators have been invited by CTA at the workshop shared their experiences with the other youth.
Dr. Edmund Katiti, Acting Head, NEPAD e-Africa Programme which partnered with the workshop recalled the tremendous potential ICT offered for development activities. He insisted that through the promotion of e-applications and e-services, the promotion of mobile payment systems, agricultural information systems, health information system, open software development and adequate capacity building, improved regulatory environment, African development and youth employment can be strengthened.
The workshop, which involved 30 youth and experts from various disciplines, countries and international organizations in Africa, is aimed at exchanging about use of ICT in agricultural business by African Youth, and to discuss about strategies to strengthen their opportunities in these sectors. It was organized following competitions organized by the CTA and NEPAD Agency on youth, ICT and entrepreneurship in agriculture, within the framework of NEPAD 10th year anniversary.
Participants proposed several recommendations, including better promotion of successes in agricultural business, improving opportunities for youth in rural areas using ICTs, providing funding arrangements and policies that support youth business in agriculture and youth companies engaged in the development of ICT solutions for agriculture, develop online and traditional mentorship schemes for young farmers, promote youth interest in agriculture through prizes, scholarships.
The meeting was part of the ARDYIS project of CTA. For more information about this project, please visit http://ardyis.cta.int/
Programme Coordinator, CTA