LAGOS, Nigeria, 21 June 2023 – In a recent forum held at the Lagos Business School and Co-Creation Hub (CcHub), Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, shared his optimism about Nigeria’s future, emphasizing the potential of the country’s innovative and talented young people. The event, titled “Advancing Africa: Unleashing the Power of Youth in Science and Innovation,” brought together students, young innovators, and partners from Nigeria and across Africa to discuss how science and innovation can drive positive change on the continent.
During his visit to Nigeria, his first since 2018, Gates praised the youth of Nigeria and the numerous Nigerian partners the Gates Foundation has collaborated with over the past decade. He acknowledged the pivotal role of scientists in scaling up interventions to improve maternal and child health, researchers aiding smallholder farmers in adapting to climate change and cultivating more nutritious crops, and companies expanding access to digital financial tools.
Gates emphasized the significance of Nigeria’s large and rapidly growing youth population, stating, “When it comes to making the world a better place, talented young people are the world’s most important asset. Nigeria’s youth population represents a tremendous reserve of skills and passion that can be harnessed to solve major challenges.”
While expressing his belief in the power of science and innovation to improve lives, Gates acknowledged that progress has not been evenly distributed, particularly concerning digital access and the availability of essential services such as healthcare, education, and employment. He highlighted the gender gap in employment, which has widened by 25% over the past five years in Nigeria, and the disparity in mobile money account ownership, with men being twice as likely as women to have such accounts.
Gates stressed the importance of prioritizing equity to ensure that the benefits of scientific breakthroughs reach everyone. He called for collaboration among Nigeria’s youth across sectors and encouraged the country’s leaders to fulfill their commitments to improving the quality of life for all Nigerians.
The event concluded with a Q&A session, where Gates further addressed the audience’s questions and shared insights on Nigeria’s potential for progress and innovation.
Bill Gates’ visit to Nigeria and his positive outlook on the country’s youth reinforce the significance of investing in young talent and leveraging science and innovation to drive sustainable development and create a brighter future for Africa.