A former Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has said Nigeria and other African countries can provide good jobs for their youths by adding value to agricultural produce and other raw materials exported to the developed nations.
The former Managing Director of World Bank said African countries must also industrialise, invest massively in infrastructure, education, health, information communication and technology and pharmaceuticals to boost their economies after the devastating effects of COVID-19 on the economy of the continent.
The leading candidate for the post of Director-General of World Trade Organisation said this while virtually delivering the 15th convocation lecture of the Bowen University, Iwo on Saturday.
The 1976 graduate of Harvard University, who delivered the lecture online was also conferred with a Doctor of Technology ( Honoris Causa).
Okonjo-Iweala said the economic impact of COVID-19 on the African continent was much devastating than its health effects but said lessons must be learnt to make life better for the people and to cope better in case of future pandemics.
She said the lack of diversification of the economies of African countries was the reason coronavirus negatively affected their economies than how it affected the developed nations.
She said, “Africa must manufacture more through value addition to the raw material it exports. Turning cocoa to chocolate is a good example. African countries need to make requisite investment in infrastructures, skills and a conducive business environment if businesses are to improve productivity, decrease costs of operations and enhance their competitiveness.
“The push for industrialisation and value added manufacturing will create good modern jobs for the continent’s youthful population thus reducing exposure to volatile global commodity market.
The former minister said the relatively low death rate resulting from COVID-19 cases in Africa came as a surprise to many because of its weak healthy system. She said testing for coronavirus should increase and Africans must continue to observe the protocol so to prevent a resurgence of the virus.
A total of 936 graduates bag degrees from the various colleges of the university, 12 were awarded Masters degrees and three got Doctorate degrees.