The African Development Bank (AfDB), has inaugurated a multinational project to create jobs and improve livelihoods for youth in three African countries. This is contained in a statement issued by Mr Ezekiel Chukwuemeka, AfDB Group, Nigeria Country Department. According to Chukwuemeka, the project will support young farmers in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo DCR, and Uganda, who are attracted to urban farming. The project is also known as Creating Sustainable Youth Micro Small and Medium Enterprises Through Urban Farming. The SYMUF project received 937,000 dollars in grant funding from the Fund for African Private Sector Assistance, a multi-donor trust fund managed by the AfDB.
He said the bank was partnering with a consortium of incubation centres in participating countries to implement the project. They are the Africa Projects Development in Nigeria, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in the DRC, and the African Agribusiness Incubation Network in Uganda. Speaking at the inauguration in Abuja, Lamin Barrow, the Director- General, AfDB Nigeria Country Department said the bank was committed to promoting entrepreneurship. Barrow was represented by Orison Amu, the bank’s Country Operations Manager for Nigeria. “The bank is committed to creating jobs and providing incomes for African youths, who are attracted to urban agriculture but do not get jobs, capital, or credit to operate their agribusinesses.” Barrow said the project would address unemployed youths and those in the early start-up stage who had not gained traction due to limited skills and financial resources. Also, Alex Ariho, Chief Executive Officer of the African Agribusiness Incubation Network in Uganda, said the SYMUF project would help young African ‘agripreneurs’ overcome start-up incubation and management challenges.
“Working together with all the partners, we are committed to making the SYMUF Project one of the best projects sponsored by the African Development Bank,” Ariho said. IITA-Bukavu’s Project Coordinator, Noel Mulinganya, however, said the bank has been “an important and tremendous partner over the years. Also speaking, Chiji Ojukwu, the Managing Director of APDC, Nigeria, said, “we are grateful to the African Development Bank for believing in the consortium. We are also grateful for giving us the opportunity to deploy our expertise in urban farming to develop young agripreneurs in these select African countries. Also, Edson Mpyisi, AfDB’s Coordinator for the Enable Youth Programme, said, “this programme is designed to empower youth at each stage of the agribusiness value chain as ‘agripreneurs’ by harnessing new skills, technologies and financing approaches.” Mpyisi further said the bank had invested more than 400 million dollars in 15 African countries under the programme. Also, Damian Ihedioha, the bank’s Division Manager for Agribusiness, said, “the bank believes that Africa’s emerging vibrant wave of entrepreneurship must be supported and nurtured for the continent’s prosperity.” SYMUF is expected to use business incubators and financial products to help transform start-up micro, small- and medium enterprises into bankable ventures.
The project is under the bank’s Empowering Novel Agri-Business Led Employment (ENABLE) Youth Programme. It would also provide youths with agribusiness and technical skills, including climate-smart agriculture practices, technologies, market networks, and professional mentorship.