AFRICAPITALISM: RETHINKING AFRICA BEYOND AID



It’s a continent with a GDP of more than $3 trillion; rich in natural and human resources, a youth population of more than 200 million, with potential to create jobs and foster economic growth. But Africa has for decades been punching below its weight, constantly relying on foreign assistance for as little as basic infrastructure. 

However, over the past decade, a generation of African leaders have taken up the gauntlet to create a new culture of self-dependence, stressing how unsustainable aids are, as a long-term development plan, and supporting young African entrepreneurs to usher in a new era of growth.

At the forefront of this is Tony Elumelu, chairman of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) and Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, the philanthropy that has empowered more than 7,500 young African entrepreneurs.These bright young Africans have accessed seed capital through the UBA Group, as part of a $100 million commitment by the Elumelu family to empowering 10,000 African entrepreneurs through the Tony Elumelu Foundation Programme (TEFP).

The Foundation took its commitment to young African entrepreneurs a step further this year when in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the TEF-UNDP Sahel Youth Entrepreneurship Programme launched. The partnership, targeting young Africans in under-served communities, is committed to empowering 100,000 entrepreneurs from seven Sahel African countries-- Northern Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroun, Mauritania, Mali and Burkina Faso -- over 10 years.

The goal is to create 10million new jobs and contribute at least $10billion to the African economy.

Whenever an opportunity to talk about a better future for Africa and its people presents itself, Mr Elumelu is always quick to remind his audience about Africapitalism, a philosophy that preaches the ability of the African private sector to transform the continent through long-term investments. It is in line with this philosophy that TEF supports African entrepreneurs. Hence, Mr Elumelu said of young Africans; “If we invest in [them], we are helping them to grow; we are helping them to help all of us create jobs and create prosperity, which is good for our continent”.
Elumelu was speaking on Thursday, November 7, in Ghana, where President Nana Akufo-Addo hosted African leaders in an event convened by the Ghanaian government in partnership with the UNDP.
“For a long time, we have relied on government, and the mentality also of Africans thinking that the world owes us and they have to help us to develop. But we also must look inwards to see that from Africa, our private sector doing business in Africa also has a role to play in the development of the continent, by investing long term in key and strategic sectors that help to catalyze economic growth and development,” Elumelu stressed.

The UBA Chairman was spot on. Matter of fact, according to World Bank estimates, remittance flows to low- and middle-income countries would become their largest source of external financing this year.
The international financial institution noted in its Migration and Development Brief that remittances to Sub-Saharan Africa grew almost 10 percent to $46 billion in 2018, supported by strong economic conditions in high-income economies where many Africans have migrated over time.

This is sign of what Africans can do for Africa given the right conditions that encourage productivity and growth.
With leaders like Elumelu, whose investments in Africa are impact-driven, there is hope that Africa’s money will grow enough to help develop Africa. But governments across the continent must work with private sector leaders like Elumelu, as well as development partners like UNDP. Such partnerships will go a long way in ensuring inclusive growth of the continent. 

By Niyi Aderibigbe
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