Why Africa’s growth must be private-sector driven, by Elumelu


PRESIDENT of Africa’s leading philanthropy the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) , Mr. Tony Elumelu, has canvassed the need for Africa’s growth to be private-sector driven by young African innovators and their transformative ideas to create millions of jobs for the continent.

He spoke during the foundation’s forum, which ended in Lagos at the weekend.

The meeting hosted more than 1,300 participants from 54 African countries.

Launched in 2015, the forum was born out of the foundation’s $100 million commitment to identify, train, mentor and fund 10,000 African entrepreneurs, over a decade, through the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme.

Elumelu said: “Africa’s development, which must be private-sector led and entrepreneurially-driven, will have at its heart, young African innovators and their transformative ideas. Only they will create the millions of jobs Africa needs. The forum has brought together Africa’s most important developmental force, its young entrepreneurs, who will become catalysts for Africa’s economic liberation.”

The two-day event, which involved plenary panels and masterclasses, provided the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurs with a platform to network and connect with business leaders, policymakers and investors.

Focusing on the forum’s theme of training and mentoring, speakers discussed topics that educated, empowered and inspired the entrepreneurs, addressing the key stages needed to successfully launch a business.

The programme emphasised the foundation’s role of uniting entrepreneurs and policymakers, as a means of ensuring that private and public sectors work together to create the best possible operating environment for entrepreneurship to thrive.

Political and private sector leaders from across Africa, including Katsina State Governor Aminu Bello Masari; Zamfara State Governor Abdul’aziz Abubakar Yari; former Prime Minister of Republic of Benin Mr. Lionel Zinsou; Chairman, Honeywell Group Oba Otudeko and Chairman, Dangote Group Alhaji Aliko Dangote directly addressed the conditions needed for stimulating entrepreneurial growth.

Senior members of global development institutions, including Wale Ayeni, Senior Investment Office, International Finance Corporation; Stephen Tio Kauma, Director Human Resources, Afrexim Bank and Andre Hue, Deputy Country Director, Agence Française de Développement, spoke of a new paradigm, driven by the need for a private sector-led change.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who addressed the 3rd cohort of TEF entrepreneurs, said: “This generation of young people will do the exceptional. You are the reason Africa will work. The length and breadth of display of talent have shown that there is indeed hope”.