The Chairman, Heirs Holdings Group, Mr. Tony Elumelu, has wooed foreign investors to Africa, saying the continent was ready for investments amid socio-political and macroeconomic challenges.
Elumelu, speaking during a recent invitation of Yasir bin Othman Al-Rumayyan, Governor of the Public Investment Fund (PIF) and Chairman of the FII Institute. Mr. Richard Attias in Saudi Arabia, noted that the continent has huge opportunities amid high level of unemployment, weak access to economic opportunities, and poor access to health care.
Elumelu in a chat with Attias, on the topic ‘How Africapitalism Drives Inclusive Growth,’ said, “We need to mobilise huge long-term capital into the continent to enable us leapfrog and fixed infrastructure that will need to develop.
“Japan, Germany, Korea and even China have benefited from massive global capital infusion. Africa needs it and I will be failing if I do not use this opportunity to draw the attention of the world to the continent on the need to collaborate with African business leaders and more importantly those like the Tony Elumelu Foundation who like to support young African entrepreneurs.
“Let’s see how we can work together to create a better future for everyone.”
He disclosed that Africapitalism started from his personal experience in the continent, stressing that for the continent to develop, the private sector has a major role to play.
According to him, “I realised that we at the private sector have a role to play in developing the continent, and not just one person and not just government alone.
“We should not have an entitlement mentality that some people come to develop the continent for us. So, we decided to involve the Young Africans at our Tony Elumelu Foundation.
“We need all hands on the deck in developing Africa. We need to privatise the young ones to who the future of Africa belongs to and most importantly, our private sector people in realisation that it’s not about the money we have in our bank account, but how we’re able to deploy the capital we have in creating economic opportunity and prosperity for our young ones.
“Africapitalism is a call on the private sector to invest long term in critical sectors of the African economy that have the potential for transforming and catalysing economic empowerment and prosperity on the continent.
“So that at the end of the day, we all grow together and no one is left behind and embedded in it is the philosophy of inclusive growth, philosophy of empowering young men, as well as our women who had for a long time been left behind, and realizing that a government must play their own role in catalysing the opportunities and enablement, that will enable private sector take-off and working also with the philanthropic organisation in Africa and outside of Africa to develop the continent.”
He said part of the reasons Africapitalism had been accepted and practiced by quite a number of people, was because Heirs Holdings Group does not just preach about it, but practices it with investment in power, and hospitality, among other critical sectors.
“In our group, we have Transcorp which is the largest electric generating company in Nigeria today. Transcorp has a combined energy-generating capacity of 2,000 megawatts.
“So for an ordinary eye, that is an economic investment that yields profits for the investors. But more importantly, we all know that access to electricity is the single most critical factor that we need to fix if we must develop Africa.
“For our young ones to go to school, they must have access to electricity. For hospitals to function very well, they must have access to electricity. For businesses to grow, and develop, they must have access to electricity.
“So, that is Africapitalism in action. We need massive investment in electricity on the continent. So, an investment in electricity is not for profitability alone but for sustainability.
“More importantly, it helps to fix the challenge that holds us from taking off as a continent. So that is the philosophy of Africapitalism.
“We need to break down the barriers in Africa. We need to wire our infrastructure in a way that will encourage intra-Africa trade. We need to produce what our people need. We need to create a bigger market for every one of us and that is why we support this new movement of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) that brings Africa to create in terms of the geographic market in the world. But more importantly, we need to empower the young generation of Africans to be able to trade.
“If you trade and you don’t produce what your neighbour needs, your neighbour will go outside and look for who can produce it. We need to make sure that in Africa, we’re able to produce what we need. And again, that brings us to the philosophy of Africapitalism.
“We must realize that no one owns our development. We as Africans must work hard to develop our continent. We must show that in the 21st century, we have Africans who are not just commission agents or who are investors on their continent. if we don’t show interest, or confidence in our continent, who else will show interest in our continent?
“That is what we preach in Africapitalism. Equally important is a realization that what we seek today, is the demographic dividend; it is the population.
“We have a population that is huge in terms of number and more importantly, the demography of the youth is very favorable which is a huge market for the world.
“But we need to capitalize on this and sharpen it in a way that’s progressive, positive, and not in a way that people become disenchanted with life and not begin to embrace migration or extremism.
“And that, again is another call I always make to young African leaders, friends of Africa and I’m happy I’m in Saudi Arabia and It’s an opportunity to take a message to the world.”
Kayode Tokede and Oluchi Chibuzor