Only Africans Can Develop Africa

Tony Elumelu
Nigerian tycoon Tony Elumelu

The founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), Mr. Tony Elumelu, has said that the private sector in Africa countries must be the leading player in contributing to the continent’s economic transformation, arguing that no one can develop the continent but Africans

A statement from the TEF Thursday said Elumelu made the remark in Washington, DC where he delivered a lecture to the International Finance Corporation (IFC), as well as participated in a plenary panel at the Global Philanthropy Forum (GPF) this week.

Elumelu, who is also the Chairman of Heirs Holdings – an African proprietary investment company with a long-term investment horizon said: “We are now the world’s fastest growing region. There is a social and economic impact to be derived, but it needs to be done with the right approach – with African leadership and with the private sector, rather than from a charitable orientation.”

The former group managing director of the United Bank for Africa (UBA), according to the statement, also honoured an invitation of World Bank Group outgoing President- Robert Zoellick, to participate in a meeting of his Advisory Council of Global Foundation Leaders.

Elumelu was said to have also introduced his concept of ‘Africapitalism’ an economic philosophy that embodies the private sector’s commitment to the economic transformation of Africa through long-term investments that create both economic prosperity and social wealth, to the audience.

“Investment in Africa needs a different perspective. For Africa’s economic growth, the private sector needs to take the lead, invest long term, and focus on making both economic and social gains. In my experience, we have made great profits, but we have also touched lives,” he argued.

Delivering another speech at keynote at the GPF’s annual conference, Elumelu was also quoted to have argued that old assumptions about how Africa would develop were changing quickly, with headlines about the continent becoming more positive.

Elumelu said: “We wanted to democratise banking – at the time, it was an economic, not a social act. But we learned quickly that as we enhanced access to banking, the communities prospered. And as the communities prospered, we also did. If you integrate both, it can create even more wealth.”

It also revealed that Elumelu met with other global philanthropy leaders as part of the World Bank Group Advisory Council of Global Foundation Leaders, hosted by the Group’s president, Robert Zoellick.

He was quoted to have stated at the gathering that: “We have an emerging affluent class in Africa. Unfortunately, the institution of giving has not been professionalised. We need the legal structures in place to really leverage Africa’s own wealth to set the continent’s development agenda from within.”