Last Thursday, I was honoured to attend the
International Conference for the Emergence of Africa in Dakar, Senegal. Too
often, we host conferences in Africa, reciting speeches, making toasts,
backslapping, but not offering solutions. This time I felt there was something
different – representative of new thinking in Africa – and one, dare I say it,
that we have helped engender. I was impressed by the attention governments and
public sector officials are beginning to pay to the economic prosperity of our
continent – not just seeking handouts from others – but seeing how governments
can actively help Africans to create wealth. For the first time in recent
history, our governments are thinking with a private sector mindset, finding
new and innovative ways to champion development on the continent. It is no
coincidence that we, at HH and in the Foundation, are so insistent on
advocating that governments play their role, in responsibly liberating the
great movement that is African entrepreneurship.
Thanking our colleagues at Heirs Holding Group,
Transcorp Plc and UBA Plc, on Friday as I received the Vanguard Personality of
the Year award
The next day, I flew back to Lagos to attend an
award ceremony hosted by Vanguard, where I was awarded the Vanguard Personality
of the Year, 2018. Again, it was interesting to note that it was the first time
that award was given to someone from the private sector. Timely – and I hope
there will be many more – as we fund and nurture the next generation.
The common thread for me – from Dakar to Lagos –
is the growing recognition of the role of the private sector in achieving
Africa’s economic potential, indeed, the role Africapitalism is playing in
elevating our continent. The public sector cannot continue to work in silos;
neither can the private sector. Both must work together to realise the Africa
we dream of.
This week, as I meet again with President Macron
at the ‘Choose France’ Summit, a major conference that brings together the
global investment and development ecosystem, I will join other senior level
business leaders, with the aim to strengthen our partnerships and speak to the
investment potential of Africa. I will go on to Davos, Switzerland, where with
other global business leaders, politicians and the other policymakers, we will
debate and explore: Globalisation 4.0 at the 2019 World Economic Forum. Why am
I going? To make sure Africa’s voice is heard and our unique approach to
business and development is understood. This will present another great
opportunity to emphasise the role the private sector and entrepreneurship play
in Africa with regard to accelerating globalisation – in a meaningful, positive
and responsible fashion – building economic and social wealth.
With emerging technologies, a burgeoning youth
population and looming debt crisis, it has become critical that Africa needs a
strengthened bilateral relationship with the rest of the world. We need an
enabling environment that catalyses entrepreneurship and enables SMEs to
thrive. Even more urgently, we need to invest in our youth, empowering them to
become leaders in today’s fast-paced and competitive world.
The private sector is best positioned to lead this
Africa’s story is yet to be told properly and we
alone can shape our narrative. Our youth are innovating and creating solutions
to our most critical challenges, despite the tough business environment. At the
World Economic Forum, it is important that their voices are heard and that
global leaders understand that the continent is emerging rapidly, but we need
their support in accelerating this through entrepreneurship and Africapitalism.


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