By Dipo Olowookere
Nigeria-born serial entrepreneur, Mr Tony Elumelu, has made a case for young entrepreneurs in Africa, appealing to Japan to earmark 5 percent of its $50 billion commitment to the continent for empowering African entrepreneurs.
Speaking at the 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) in Yokohama, Japan, the former banker said Japan, which is an economic power in Asia and the world, can learn from the example of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, which champions empowering African entrepreneurs, as the most sustainable means of accelerating the development of Africa.
“At TICAD 2016 in Kenya, Japan pledged $30 billion for Africa. This year, you have generously increased this to $50 billion.
“If we invested just 5 percent in Africa’s new generation of entrepreneurs, following my foundation’s robust, proven model of getting capital directly to those best placed to catalyse growth and create real impact, we could touch 500,000 lives, across the 54 African countries, broadening markets, facilitating job creation, improving income per capita, and laying the key foundation for political and economic stability,” Mr Elumelu said during his impassioned keynote speech delivered before global leaders.
The Chairman of United Bank for Africa (UBA) and other companies outlined the three key pillars of a bold and transformative structure: investment in infrastructure, partnership with the African private sector, and investment in Africa’s youth.
“Africa is one of the world’s viable destinations for investment. Our huge population, of nearly 1.3 billion people, creates one of the most attractive markets anywhere in the world.
“The world is paying close attention to Africa, but is Japan at the centre of this conversation or is it on the sidelines?” he queried.
President of South Africa and Co-Chair of TICAD, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, while reechoing Mr Elumelu’s stance, stated that, “If you want really good returns, as Mr Tony Elumelu said, come to Africa.”
According to Mr Ramaphosa, “Africa presents risk-adjusted returns and is a market in which investments are flowing at a hundred billion dollars, that is the new profile of Africa that is being presented to the world.”
In his remarks, Prime Minister of Japan, Mr Shinzō Abe, noted that, “In Africa, some countries have joined top nations in the ranking on the ease of doing business. The scale of the market continues to expand. We can envision a day when the entire continent of Africa becomes an enormous economic zone.”
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