NEPAD: Need To Focus On Agriculture Projects

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Stakeholders at the two-day workshop on the Skills Initiative for Africa programme have advised NEPAD to focus on addressing skill gap by implementing agriculture projects in the country.

The stakeholders gave the recommendation in a communiqué read by Dr Iyk Oji, Special Adviser to the National Coordinator of NEPAD Nigeria, Mrs Gloria Akobundu, at the end of the workshop on Wednesday in Abuja.

From left: Representative of the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Dr Roy Ugo; Chief Executive Officer of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), Nigeria, Princess Gloria Akobundu; and Director of Programme Implementation and Coordination, NEPAD Agency, South Africa, Mee Estherine Frebong, during the NEPAD Stakeholders Workshop on Skills Initiative for Africa, in Abuja on Tuesday. Photo: Albert Otu/BJO/NAN

They urged the initiative to address skill gaps in the area of agro-processing, poultry production and agriculture value chain in line with the current administration’s change agenda on economic diversification.

They said it should also address skill gap in vocational skills like welding and mechanics, among others, in the six geo-political zones.

“NEPAD Nigeria shall serve as the facilitator for accessing funding window for beneficiary organisations in Nigeria.

“The timeline for the submission of proposals for the first funding window of May 30, 2017, was noted.

“It was noted and the urgent need to put in place the necessary mechanisms for the coordination of the Skills Initiative for Africa,’’ the communiqué read in part.

They also suggested that the implementation of the initiative should be inclusive through a bottom-up approach to accommodate diversity and the six geo-political zones in the country.

The stakeholders said that NEPAD Nigeria should play a major role in the coordination of the Skills Initiative for Africa, sensitisation on the programme and be part of the selection of the projects.

They said Nigeria should be part of the selection of the projects to be funded by the Investment Committee in Continental Office in South Africa as well as monitoring of the implementation of the programme.

In addition, the stakeholders noted that one of the priority areas of NEPAD was to create gainful employment for the unemployed/under-employed persons in the continent.

They noted that Africa was faced with high rate of unemployment, which has been linked to low productivity, poor industrialisation, poverty and restiveness among the teeming youths.

“In this regard, skills development was identified as a tool to tackle skills deficit and mismatch.

“The meeting noted curricular review and update should start from the basic level.

“One of the programmes identified to tackle the skills gap in Africa is the Skills Initiative for Africa programme.’’

In addition, they noted that the programme aimed at raising the continent’s overall capacity and ability to create new employment and economic opportunities for Africa’s young populations and women.

They also noted that it would offer opportunities to the youth to build desired skill capabilities and enhance their employability into a globally competitive and rapidly modernising labour market and entrepreneurship ventures.

The stakeholders observed that the aim of the meeting was to inform the private, public sectors and civil society organisations (CSOs) about Skills Initiative for Africa programme and its associated opportunities as well as potential contributions to the national economy.

It was observed that the workshop was organised to identify synergies on other youth employment interventions in the country that could be aligned with existing bilateral programmes.

Besides, they observed that the workshop was organised to consult with the key stakeholders on best practices and approaches for establishing Continental Dialogue Platform on Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET).

TVET was put together by African Union Commission, NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency and the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany.

NEPAD is the socio-economic flagship programme of the African Union for the development of the African Continent.

No fewer than 200 participants attended the workshop, organised by NEPAD Nigeria in collaboration with NEPAD Continental Office in South Africa.