‘Africapitalist’ Elumelu changes continent’s narrative abroad
From OKORO CHINEDU in Lagos, Nigeria
LAGOS , ( CAJ News) – PROMINENT Nigerian businessman and philanthropist, Tony Elumelu, is on a quest to change the narrative for Africa, and France is positioning itself to be a part of the story.
The eminent entrepreneur (53) , who has recently been at the European country at the invitation of the government and private sector, is determined to ensure the continent shed off investors’ perception of Africa as a continent synonymous with strife.
“For too long, many people when they hear the word ‘Africa,’ they think about darkness and backwardness. I want people to think of Africa and think of possibilities,” said Elumelu, the chairman of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) and Heirs Holdings, an African proprietary investment company, as well as founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation.
So strong is his conviction that he has put money where his mouth is.
His foundation has created the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme to rain, mentor and seed 10 000 African businesses over the next 10 years with the aim of creating 1 million new jobs and $10 billion in additional
revenue across Africa.
The scheme is hailed as an endorsement young entrepreneurs in the continent who, despite their potential, have largely been starved of funding.
Such initiatives have made Elumelu has become one of the biggest advocates for Africa, which is apt that he was invited to France where he was presented several platforms on which he was able to continue to promote Africa as a continent ripe for investment.
Born in Jos, Elumelu is the originator of the term Africapitalism, an economic philosophy that embodies the private sector’s commitment to the economic transformation of Africa through long-term investments that create both economic prosperity and social wealth.
He sees Africans taking charge of the value-adding sectors and ensuring that those value-added processes happen in Africa, not through nationalisation or government policies, but because there is a generation of private sector entrepreneurs who have the vision, the tools and the opportunity to shape the destiny of the continent.
He insists “Africapitalism is not capitalism with an African twist.”
“It is a rallying cry for empowering the private sector to drive Africa’s economic and social growth.”
During his trip to France, Elumelu’s first stop was a Public Investment Bank-hosted event, which witnessed a gathering of over 4 000 French entrepreneurs.
Elumelu gave a keynote speech sharing his current focus, which is to change the African narrative and perception, especially to the international community.
He was also able to meet Rachida Dati, Member of the European Parliament, and Pierre Gattaz, the President of the Movement of the Enterprises of France to continue discussions which begun last year, on new ways to strengthen business ties between France and Africa.
He also met Lionel Zinsou, former Prime minister of Benin who has lately been a champion of French companies doing business in Africa.
Other platforms included a breakfast with some members of the French Senate and participating as guest speaker on ‘Discover Nigeria,’ a gathering of French investors and entrepreneurs, interested in learning more about doing business in Nigeria.
French Senate President, Gérard Larcher, reinforced the relationship between Nigeria and France.
“Nigeria is the first destination of French investment and the first partner of France in sub-Saharan Africa,” said Larcher.
The French Ambassador to Nigeria, Dennis Gauer, concurred overlooking the West African country’s prevailing economic challenges.
“Economists say that Africa is the last engine of the world growth and this engine will be driven by Nigeria,” Gauer projected.
Elumelu encouraged French businesses to come and explore Nigeria and find the right partners to help them navigate the business environment.
“Nigeria still offers one of the highest returns on investment on the continent and beyond. The Nigerian economy plays an important role in West Africa and beyond. So when you invest in Nigeria, the benefits spill over to our neighbours in dozens of countries,” Elumelu stated.
With trade volumes of US$20 billion between France and Africa, the European country is lagging way behind China, Africa’s largest trade partner.
Trade between China and the continent is ten times bigger.
– CAJ News
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