Young entrepreneurs, key to transforming African economy–Elumelu

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Founder, The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), Mr. Tony Elumelu has said that a vibrant African-led private sector is the key to unlocking the continent’s economic and social potential.
Elumelu stated this in his keynote address at the third annual TEF Entrepreneurship Forum in Lagos, which hosted over 1,300 participants from 54 African countries.
The event showcased innovation across sectors, including agriculture, technology, healthcare, fashion and energy/power generation Elumelu said only young African entrepreneurs will create the millions of jobs the continent needs.
“Africa’s development, which must be private sector-led and entrepreneurially driven, will have at its heart, young African innovators and their transformative ideas. Only they will create the millions of jobs Africa needs. The Forum has brought together Africa’s most important developmental force, her young entrepreneurs who will become catalysts for Africa’s economic liberation.
“We have united the African entrepreneurship ecosystem, putting the entrepreneurs at centre stage. I want to thank those heads of government and other key policymakers, who have supported our firm belief that the private sector is the engine for growth and the private sector players, who are models of our philosophy of Africapitalism – the idea that business will drive change and that change must deliver economic and social wealth,” he said.
Elumelu commended the Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and French bilateral development bank, Agence Française De Développement (AFD) for partnering with TEF and urged other individuals and developmental institutions to partner with the Foundation and expand the scale of its impact.
“We call on friends of Africa to partner with the Foundation, to scale our impact beyond the 1,000 entrepreneurs a year. Real opportunity exists to tap into Africa’s potential and our entrepreneurs offer a gateway to participating in both economic success and creating social wealth,” he said.
Also addressing the young entrepreneurs, the vice president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo admonished Nigerians and Africans not to become slaves of a disastrous history.
“This generation of young people will do the exceptional. You are the reason Africa will work. The length and breadth of display of talent have shown that there is indeed hope.”

“Our economic history is characterized by poverty, infant mortality and illiteracy among others. Our history can frighten us or cripple our hope.

“Our failures of the past are tyrannical weapons of history. History is not only a record of the past, it is past. It is gone. History of Africa does not determine its future unless we allow it.

“The days you live in now are better than the past. Many years ago, mobile phones didn’t exist, you have to queue for hours to make calls.

“Today, we can’t imagine life without our smart phones. We are getting nearer to beating hunger and famine than before in human history.

“Tests have shown that the current generation is smarter than the past. Dreams pursued with single mindedness are more powerful than facts. Hopes and imaginations are more potent than history because your history is not your destiny,” said Osinbajo.

Launched in 2015, the Forum was born out of the Foundation’s $100 million commitment to identify, train, mentor and fund 10,000 African entrepreneurs, over a decade, through the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme.
The event involved plenary panels and master classes, provided the entrepreneurs with a platform to network and connect with business leaders, policymakers and investors.
Focusing on the Forum’s theme of training and mentoring, speakers discussed topics that educated, empowered and inspired the entrepreneurs, addressing the key stages needed to successfully launch a business.
The speaking programme emphasised the Foundation’s role of uniting entrepreneurs and policymakers, as a means of ensuring that private and public sectors work together to create the best possible operating environment for entrepreneurship to thrive.
Political and private sector leaders from across Africa, including the governor of Katsina State, Mr. Aminu Bello Masari, governor of Zamfara State, Mr. Abdul’aziz Abubakar Yari, former prime minister of Benin Republic, Mr. Lionel Zinsou, chairman, Honeywell Group, Oba Otudeko, chairman, Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, addressed the conditions needed for stimulating entrepreneurial growth.
Besides, senior members of global development institutions, including the senior investment office, International Finance Corporation (IFC), Wale Ayeni, director, human resources, Afrexim Bank, Stephen Tio Kauma, and deputy country director, AFD, Andre Hue, spoke on a new paradigm, driven by the need for a private sector-led change.

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