AFRICAPITALISM: RETHINKING AFRICA BEYOND AID

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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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