For years, young people in Nigeria and Africa at large lacked the opportunity to lend their voices towards the socio-economic and political climate of their countries leaving them unmotivated and disheartened. That is, until Adebola Williams took the initiative to change this and developed a platform that empowers young people and drives the youth agenda through a now award-winning Public Relations and Media company.
A select few young people have the courage to speak up and dare to question the systematic undermining of the potential and worth of youth. Adebola is one of them. He is a fervent youth advocate and has made powerful interventions at extremely high-level fora, all the while fighting for the inclusion of young people in decision making processes. He uses his vast platform to inspire young people everywhere and support young people in gaining the skills they need to succeed in life. He has won various awards for his stellar dedication to social change and democracy and is an alumnus of multiple prestigious fellowships. All this and more, made him a perfect candidate to represent young people at the global level as a Generation Unlimited (GenU) Champion.
Adebola is originally from Nigeria and is a young co-founder and Group CEO of RED | For Africa, the continent’s largest portfolio of youth-focused media brands. A pioneer at the intersection of media, democracy, and social change, he has been profiled by Forbes and CNN as the man who helped elect a trifecta of Presidents in Africa. His journey in media and television began in the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) with advocacy for youth and good governance.1
The many accolades Adebola has amounted over the years sets him apart and has afforded him seats at many high-level decision-making tables across the globe as a reverberating voice of change for young people. This coupled with his devotion to bettering the lives of young people, and his ability to break down barriers and find solutions to support his community, placed him on GenUs radar and he was approached to join as a GenU Global Champion.
GenU Champions is a small curated group of very high-level individuals from different sectors across the globe. They utilize their platforms and networks to influence and catalyse investments for youth education, skills and employability at global, regional and national levels. Adebola is one of two young people in this group.
Adebola engages with GenU and its partners in various initiatives to mentor and support young people allowing them to believe in themselves and the possible impact they can have in their societies. Adebola is a constant source of innovative and creative ideas on how to activate young people. GenU has leveraged his experience and expertise working at the grassroot level to strategize more meaningful ways of engaging young people through the various streams of work.
“My commitment to GenU is that strong passion and desire to ensure that the voice, needs, the mind of young people, the aspirations and visions of today’s world is captured when plans about their future is being created.” – Adebola Williams
The voice of Adebola, is known to galvanize positive action from young people and high-level individuals and as such, GenU has involved him in various top-level events to do just that. A great example of this was during the High-Level Youth Dialogue on COVID-19 with the theme; building back better with African youth. The purpose of this consultation was to highlight the challenges faced by African youth during the pandemic and identify solutions and recommendations governments can put in place to ensure the largest population on the continent are not left behind due to the socio-economic crisis brought on by COVID-19.
Among other things, Adebola highlighted the need for digitization across Africa to enable a shift from manual innovations to digital ones. He spoke of the need for youth to move from consumers to creators. He also strongly brought across the importance of setting funds aside to cater for the youth in the arts and creative industry who are among the hardest hit by the pandemic.
“Everything is changing based on technology and the tools of the time must constantly be factored in building a generation that is truly unlimited, and the skills of the time must also be put at the forefront to help us scale.” – Adebola Williams
Adebola mentioned how his media company filled the gap left by the government through citizen to citizen support; combatting misinformation, supporting social entrepreneurship for young people and bridging the gap between those affected by the lockdown and those willing to help.
“We believe that a potent way to fight COVID-19 and its aftermath is to provide people around us with the economic wherewithal to cater for their welfare and dampen the effect of the virus on themselves and their family.” – Adebola Williams
It is worth noting that recommendations and concerns raised by Adebola and 600 youth during this meeting were presented during the African Ministerial Meeting held on June 17th where Youth, ICT and Sports Ministers from the AU Member states made commitments to tackle these issues.
Another great intervention made by Adebola was during the 1st of September where he joined a high-level meeting of GenU partners, public and private world leaders to rewrite the future of connectivity and modern education for 3.5 billion children and youth below the age of 25 by 2030.
“COVID-19 has accelerated our move into an imminent future. Leaders from government to business must therefore work towards decentralizing education with a focus on skills and talent development. We need massive investments in tech enabled infrastructure to connect youths to global opportunities to build wealth” – Adebola Williams 1st September
His speech boldly encouraged leaders to create spaces for young people to voice their realities through needs assessment programs to better understand what young people truly need to thrive in education and employment in a post pandemic world as they know best the support they need.
“What the world needs today is to listen to young people, listen to them intently, listen to their hearts. Put the resources form the G7 to the G20 behind what they have said to accelerate what they truly desire.” – Adebola Williams
Throughout his role as a GenU champion and as an extension of the work and advocacy he already engages in, Adebola not only demands a seat at the table, he commands the attention and respect of it. He does not shy away from holding governments accountable for the promises and commitments they make to young people and continues to support GenU in activating public and private sector to invest in the youth.
“It is time for leaders to stop paying lip service, we must build a generation of makers, manufacturers, creators, producers and it all begins with education! A holistic education, that targets at building world leaders. A truly unlimited generation…” -Adebola Williams
To see him time and again stand tall, a giant in a room of giants pushing for the youth voice to be heard, valued and actioned upon, is an inspiration. It is a call to action, a nudge to all young people to bring out their inner giant and speak up for what they believe in. He is a true example of the unlimited power unlocking your potential holds and will continue to champion GenUs mandate of creating opportunities for young people in education, entrepreneurship, employment all the while empowering them to be change makers.
To learn more about Adebola Williams, follow him on Instagram.