The Chairman of United Bank for Africa (UBA), Tony O. Elemelu, has said that the only way Africa can develop is for its governments to create the right economic environment for the private sector to thrive.
Speaking in Accra, at the University of Ghana, on the theme: ‘Africapitalism and Entrepreneurship’, Mr. Elumelo said for the African continent to experience phenomenal levels of development, African entrepreneurs must lead the charge and invest in the continent, a concept he christened “Africapitalism”.
“Africapitalism posits that the private sector has a key role to play in the economic and social development of the African continent. For Africa to develop, long term investments in critical sectors of the economy must occur, and it has to be made by the private sector. Africapitalism charges Africans to embrace certain concepts of the mindset.
First, is that Africans must lead the way. It is difficult to expect people to come and invest in your continent when you decide to keep your money in a Swiss bank account. So, for us as Africans, the philosophy of Africapitalism is that, invest in Africa, lead the way so that our partners can join us in investing in Africa,” Mr. Elumelu said.
He further encouraged indigenes of the continent to take their destinies into their own hands as he believe it is only people from Africa that can better understand the challenges of the continent and develop practical and suitable solutions to address them, and help lift people out of poverty.
“Through Africapitalism, we can build resilient, competitive, and self-reliant economy, while empowering the young population. We also believe that we can achieve development that is sustainable and all-inclusive.
We believe that in the process, we will reduce poverty by creating prosperity for majority of our people, by increasing access to opportunities through which people can become self-reliant and maintain their human dignity,” Mr. Elumelu stated.
For it all to happen, though, African governments, he said, need to create a “conducive” working environment to encourage new and existing entrepreneurs to invest in the economies of the continent.
The Tony Elumelu Foundation
To lead by example, Mr. Elumelu has set up a philanthropic arm—the Tony Elumelu Foundation, which has set aside a US$100million fund aimed at raising and supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs across Africa.
The Foundation targets grooming 1000 African entrepreneurs yearly for a period of ten years. So far, 2000 entrepreneurs have benefitted from the programme and the next group of 1000 will be announced end of this month.
Seventy-nine entrepreneurs from Ghana have been beneficiaries of the programme since its inception.