“I am a strong believer of ECOWAS and market access approach,” says President Emmanuel Macron of France during his visit to Nigeria early this month. He explained that “it is about time ECOWAS region goes for more integration; market access and possibly a sort of common currency.”
Addressing the audience in Lagos where he launched N500 billion programme to boost innovation initiative in the private sector, Macron explained that the unique way to succeed is to have strong private sector as the only source of inclusive growth in Nigeria.
Things are changing and Africa has some new leaders arriving and decided to totally change and reframe and change the face of the continent. Africa is young, and like this state, Lagos, two-third of the population is under 35 years. And this state is just the 5th of the economy of Africa.
These young people, this new generation has a lot of responsibilities and opportunities to grow. And indeed what I want to build with you is this new directive in action. I want to build with you full entrepreneurship , hobby, digital, culture, sports. Yesterday, I was at the Shrine exactly for the same reason. It is part of the same message; the same narrative, which is to say: nobody has to decide for our future; we are the ones to decide. Nobody has to lecture us. But we should know that we have to take our responsibilities: think about the legacies, the sustainability of our deals; and how we share and develop our countries. That is the new narrative and it is my first message. The second on is that entrepreneurship and innovation is part of the answers. It is part of the answers because that is the best way to access your responsibilities and to change everything.
This new narrative is to say Africa is the one to decide for Africa; to explain about Africa and to create its own model of entrepreneurship with its own culture and to explain to the rest of the world, and not just to be part of globalization, with adjustments were always made despite the people. So this new narrative is to be built now. And I do believe it is your responsibilities. And I do believe it is good for Africa and it is good for France because if Africa doesn’t succeed, France and Europe will never succeed on the long, for two simple logical reasons:
Europe is not an island, and this migration crisis, which we can reverse in few months, is exactly due to the fact that we have a common destiny. The second is the fact that we have these important Africans in Diaspora: in France and in the rest of Europe. And they can not live and develop themselves and succeed in France and in Europe if in their countries, people don’t succeed.
One, you are young, and you want to develop. Innovation is just by chance. Smart people, when they are in charge, are obsessed by innovation because they want to bring down success. But youth players, young people should be obsessed with innovation because this is the way to success. This is the only way, when you are not a player, not an insider, to enter into this game and to succeed in it, to disrupt the insider and to become part of the game. Innovation is just how relevant or irrelevant some secrets to succeed; make your life better and the lives of your family and the people around you better. And there is always no card for innovation except the one you have in your mind. There is no card! Innovation is a personal thing, all about how to create and at the same time disrupt activity when it does not make sense.
If I am here today, it is just because I want you to take a lot of sense, and I found out how to innovate and take my risks in political life. I never asked for permission to do so. And guess what? When I solicited advice from those inside this game, the first advice I got was that ‘you should wait a little bit! Wait a little bit! At some point, it would be for you!’ But not now! Never follow this kind of advice.
So if you want to do it; If you want to change the world; if you want to change your country, if you believe in innovation, in your project, just make it feasible, just create, just daring and just do it, right now. That is about innovation. And that’s part of the answers for this continent and for this country.
Yes! Part of the future will be rosy for young people through innovation. That is why we decided to launch the Digital Africa initiative, which means to create sort of African Platforms for digital, and not to explain to people; to make sure people know what they should do.