Nigeria’s government and its South African counterpart have harped on the need to evolve sustainable strategies aimed at harnessing the resourcefulness and greatness of the youth of both countries.
Nigeria’s minister of youth and sports development, Mr. Sunday Dare, stated this on Monday when the South African minister of women, youth and disabilities, Ms. Maite Nkoana-Mashabane paid him a courtesy visit in his office, Abuja.
He reiterated the commitment of the two countries towards strengthening the bilateral relationship, saying arrangements have been concluded for the formal signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two countries with a view to jointly combat the restiveness of youth, cross-fertilize ideas/opportunities, reduce friction amongst them, entrepreneurial development, market development and export marketing for youth among others.
“We have the most resourceful youth population in both countries that have become a great asset. The governments on both sides must have the political will to engage, invest in their skills, create access to credit and finances that will unleash their potential,” Dare declared.
Already he said, in the realisation of the potentialities of the Nigerian youth as asset to sustainable economic growth and development of the country, President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has through the efforts of the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development last year, approved N75b (Seventy-Five Billion Naira), Nigeria Youth Investment Fund (NYIF) for young entrepreneurs to have access to loans at minimal interest rates in order to establish and improve their businesses.
“This is to say that the Republic of South Africa has come to that stage of investing in the youth now,” he said.
According to him, the signing of the MoU by both countries will not only set a template for other African countries to follow and adopt, but will further strengthen both countries in the sectors of mineral resources, environment, forests and woodlands as well as waste management value chain.
He highlighted the areas of cooperation to include youth exchange programmes on; notable national, international and historic events; National Youth Service initiatives; sharing of best practices on national youth legislation, policies, frameworks and guidelines, among others, noted that the agreement will provide succour for youth with disabilities in both countries.
Others, he said, will also feature in the exchange of information on technologies, research, development programmes and experts as well as exchange of information communication technology (ICT) and special education.
The visit of the Republic of South African minister for Women, Youth and Disabilities, Dare said, is a precursor for the smooth signing of the Memorandum of Understanding in Abuja by President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria and his South African counterpart, President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa.
On her part, the visiting South African minister, Ms. Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, said economic empowerment of youth is key to development of the African continent, stating that Africa should not be about poverty, but economic growth.
“Nigeria and South Africa must strive to do something right because if we do it right, we are holding back the continent.
“Africa should not be about poverty but economic growth. We want to see our youth skilled and educated. Economic empowerment of youth, especially women is very important and Nigeria and South Africa must stand up by investing in our youth. It is our view that a strong Nigeria is in the best interest of our common effort of advancing the African agenda,” she said.
She said her visit is within the context of seeking to emphasize the strategic nature and character of the bilateral relations, as aptly captured by the South Africa-Nigeria Bi-National Commission (BNC).