Elumelu Challenges Japan – “Partner With us in Empowering African Entrepreneurs”

Elumelu Challenges Japan – “Partner With us in Empowering African Entrepreneurs”

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In an impassioned keynote speech, delivered before global leaders, at the 7th
Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) in
Yokohama, Japan, African investor and philanthropist Tony O. Elumelu CON,
challenged the Government of Japan to invest 5% of its $50billion commitment
to Africa, in empowering African entrepreneurs.

“At TICAD 2016 in Kenya, Japan pledged $30billion for Africa. This year you
have generously increased this to $50 billion. If we invested just 5% in Africa’s
new generation of entrepreneurs, following my Foundation’s robust, proven
model of getting capital directly to those best placed to catalyse growth and
create real impact, we could touch 500,000 lives, across the 54 African
countries, broadening markets, facilitating job creation, improving income per
capita, and laying the key foundation for political and economic stability”,
said Mr. Elumelu.

Mr. Elumelu’s statement captured his vision of a relationship between Japan
and Africa, which prioritises economic and shared prosperity. He outlined the
three key pillars of a bold and transformative structure: investment in
infrastructure, partnership with the African private sector, and investment in
Africa’s youth.

He urged Japan to learn from the example of the Tony Elumelu Foundation,
which champions empowering African entrepreneurs, as the most sustainable
means of accelerating the development of Africa. The Tony Elumelu
Foundation, in just five years has assisted over 7,500 African entrepreneurs
across every African country, with seed capital, capacity building, mentorship
and networking opportunities through its $100 million Entrepreneurship
Programme.

Elumelu’s advice carried the weight of his track record of business success,
founding Africa’s global bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA), which has grown
its presence to 20 African countries, as well as in the United Kingdom, France,
and the USA; and Heirs Holdings, Africa’s private investment company which
actively invests in key sectors of Africa’s economy and controls millions of
dollars in its investment portfolio. Together, they employ over 30,000 people
and transform the communities they operate in.
“Africa is one of the world’s viable destinations for investment. Our huge
population, of nearly 1.3 billion people, creates one of the most attractive
markets anywhere in the world. The world is paying close attention to Africa,
but is Japan at the centre of this conversation or is it on the sidelines?” he
queried.

Mr. Elumelu’s philosophy has become increasingly popular on the African
continent, where he is acknowledged as the pioneer of a private-sector-led
approach to accelerating development. He repeated the message at the
Generation Unlimited breakfast meeting with H.E. Paul Kagame, President of
Rwanda and UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, with its focus on job
creation in Africa, where he emphasised the role the African youth plays in this
narrative.

President of South Africa and Co-Chair, TICAD, H.E. Cyril Ramaphosa
corroborated Mr. Elumelu’s stance. He said: “If you want really good returns,
as Mr. Tony Elumelu said, come to Africa. Africa presents risk-adjusted returns
and is a market in which investments are flowing at a hundred billion dollars –
that is the new profile of Africa that is being presented to the world.”
Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator praised Tony Elumelu’s Private-Sector led
approach to development in Africa. He said: “I want to refer to my dear friend
and colleague Tony Elumelu because he alluded to the vital role that business
can also play in investing in the future of the youth. These are the kinds of
partnerships that will drive business and development agenda to very different
heights in the future”.

Speaking on the potential of the African continent, Prime Minister Shinz? Abe
of Japan said: “In Africa, some countries have joined top nations in the ranking
on the ease of doing business. The scale of the market continues to expand.
We can envision a day when the entire continent of Africa becomes an
enormous economic zone.”

Organised by the Japanese Government, TICAD is a three-yearly forum for
advancing Africa’s development through people, technology, and
innovation, bringing together government, business leaders, companies and
other stakeholders. The event hosted Presidents and private sector leaders
including Prime Minister Shinz? Abe of Japan; H.E. Mr. Muhammadu Buhari,
President of Nigeria; H.E. Mr. Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, President of Egypt and Chair
of the African Union (AU); H.E. Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa;
and H.E. Mr. Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda and a host of other African
Presidents.

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