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Bill Gates Showcases Nigeria’s Youth as Pioneers in the Winds of Change

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LAGOS, Nigeria – Bill Gates, co-chair of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, just off his trip inspiring journey through Nigeria, has shed light on the tremendous promise and innovations coming from the country’s burgeoning youth population.

“It was amazing to return to Lagos and Abuja this week. Nigeria is one of the world’s most dynamic, vibrant places, and I am always blown away by how much it’s changed,” Gates said in his travelogue published on his personal blog, GatesNotes on June 23, 2023,

The focal point of Gates’ visit was his engagement with Nigeria’s next generation of innovators at the Youth Innovation Forum in Lagos. Here, he connected with students from the Lagos Business School and discussed the potential of African human capital, the fusion of profit-making and making a difference, and the cultural richness of Nigeria.

“Nigeria is one of the youngest, fastest-growing countries in the world. The number of people between the ages of 20 and 40 is projected to double by 2050. That’s a huge number of people who can use their passions and skills to help solve big problems,” Gates remarked.

In Lagos, Gates also visited the Randle Maternity & Children’s Hospital where he met with Professor Bosede Afolabi. Gates was deeply moved by Dr Afolabi’s groundbreaking work in intravenous iron infusions, which holds the potential to save hundreds of thousands of lives. “It was awesome to see such promising work up close,” Gates said.

Another highlight was his catch-up with Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man and a fellow philanthropist. Both have been partners in tackling issues such as malnutrition, food fortification, and polio through their respective foundations.

Bill Gates
The President of the Republic, Head of State, HE Mohamed Bazoum, received on Monday, June 19, 2023, the co-president of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr. Bill Gates and Mr. Aliko Dangote, President of the eponymous Foundation. | Niger Government Photo/ Twitter

Gates showed particular enthusiasm for agricultural innovation. He was intrigued by Aflasafe, a product designed to protect crops from aflatoxin, a toxic compound produced by fungal infections that is linked to liver cancer.

Furthermore, Gates was impressed by Arnergy, a company backed by Breakthrough Energy Ventures. Arnergy seeks to address Nigeria’s energy challenges by introducing a hybrid solar power generator and lithium storage unit as an alternative to conventional diesel generators.

Gates’ visit was also marked by high-level engagements, including meetings with President Bola Tinubu of Nigeria, President Mohamed Bazoum of Niger, and the Sultan of Sokoto, among other traditional leaders.

Bill Gates
Ebuka Obi-Uchendu (right), a Nigerian media personality, interviewed Bill Gates during the billionaire philantropist’s visit to Nigeria in June 2023. | Ebuka Obi-Uchendu/Twitter

Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, a Nigerian media personality, interviewed him, and they talked about the power of youth innovation and climate change.

In a visit to Massey Street Children’s Hospital in Lagos, Gates acknowledged the importance of innovations in neonatal care units. He highlighted a program called NEST360 that partners with hospitals across Africa to implement crucial technologies and uses data to enhance outcomes for newborns.

Gates concluded his visit with a renewed belief in the youth and their ability to transform Africa’s future through innovation. “I left more convinced than ever that, with support, young people can develop innovative solutions to transform Africa’s future,” he said.

With Gates’ spotlight on Nigeria’s youth and their innovations, there is a mounting sense of anticipation for the transformation they are poised to bring to Nigeria, the African continent, and beyond.

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