Is Africa really Rising?

So say the
co –chairs at the recently concluded World Economic Forum on Africa which was
held in Kigali, Rwanda from May 11th -13th, 2016.


Tony O.Elumelu, Chairman UBA Plc 
Rwanda, the land of many hills is as beautiful as ever as
it welcomed 14 African heads of state and many leading African business persons
who converged to discuss how to move the African continent forward.
Leading African businessman and philanthropist
Tony O. Elumelu; Akin Adesina, President of the African Development Bank;
Graca Machel, former first lady of Mozambique and widow of Nelson Mandela;
Phillipe le Houerou, CEO of the International Finance Corporation and Tarek
Sultan Al Esso, Vice Chairman of the Board Agility were co -chairs at the World
Economic Forum on Africa to discuss the 4th industrial revolution
and the impact it will have across the continent.
The numerous plenary sessions and discussions throughout
the forum, some of which were opened by H.E President Kagame, centred on
creating dynamic and effective strategies to encourage long term development
and continued economic growth in light of the opportunities and challenges
faced on the continent.


According to
Elumelu, discussing at the forum on moving Africa forward, organized by NEPAD,
“When people say Africa is on the move, it is truly on the move because we have
an ecosystem that is supporting itself. Let us remember to keep passing the
baton to others’ in reference to championing young African entrepreneurs across
the continent. Elumelu who has endowed $100m through his Tony Elumelu Foundation
in support of Young entrepreneurs with start up businesses stated that the only
way the continent’s anticipated movement will happen is when private sector
helps to create significant jobs and employment for youths thus addressing one
of society’s most pressing needs and challenges.
On his part, Adesina emphasized that everything revolves
around power in the 4th industrial revolution. “We must recognize
that it(the 4th industrial revolution) is already on its way but
everything revolves around access to power and electricity.” Creation of jobs
is the second issue he added.  The huge
numbers of youths who do not have jobs on the continent heighten social and
economic fragility in Africa, Adesina said at the meeting of the forum’s co
chair on the second day.
Winnie Byanyima of Oxfam who herself was not a co chair
reiterated that public education was one of the keys to the success of Africa
rising just as Graca Machel did. For Nelson Mandela’s widow, education and
gender equality were the two main issues that needed to be resolved in order
for the continent to move forward. According to her, “
We have not
been able to anticipate the needs of skills. We can’t move as we should if we
don’t take a look at how we reinvent our systems of education and private
sector has a role to play here along with the public sector. So systems will
prepare young people for the future”.
There was no
doubt that the top three main issues for the continent as emerged from the World
Economic Forum on Africa are: job creation, access to power and transportation.
On the issue
of poor transportation networks on the continent, Dr. Mayaki acknowledged that
“the competitiveness of our industries is largely affected by logistics
problems in Africa.’ This was further buttressed by Elumelu who explained that “Africa
is a continent rooted in its past. We have a transportation system conceived,
designed and built centuries ago not for the purpose of intra trade nor for
moving people around, but for goods to be moved to ports.  Tareq Sultan Al Esso was in agreement and said
“we need to focus on trade facilitation. We have to make it easier for everyone
to do business. It’s  low hanging fruit”.
So again we
beg the question: Is Africa rising?
Elumelu sees
the glass as half full.  In spite of the
decline in commodity prices in the world in the past 5 years, Africa has
remained relatively resilient.  For
Elumelu “I would rather invest in Africa than elsewhere in the world because
the return on my investment in Africa is much higher than elsewhere in the
world. I see myself as an Africapitalist and everything I do is guided by this
philosophy’. He enjoins Africans to develop Africa but is open to help from
outside of Africa. His message to foreign Aid agencies and owners of the
billions of capital worldwide looking for a home:  ‘let other wealthy Africans, friends of Africa
who want to help Africa truly develop, and organisations committed to youth
empowerment and job creation take up the rest of the applications from our Tony
Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme.’
As everyone
leaves Rwanda, a once ravaged country transformed into a beautiful African
haven, it is with hope that Africa also can become transformed in a truly
sustainable way. 
Africa is
indeed rising. The continent is on the move.



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