Charity and aid have failed Africa and its leading entrepreneurs are now driving the continent’s development agenda.
This was the sentiment of Tony Elumelu’s speech, described by many as “powerful,” which was delivered at the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) Annual Board of Governors meeting held in Marrakech, Morocco. The speech was followed by a panel discussion moderated by the BBC presenter Zeinab Badawi with Ronald Lauder, founder of the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation.
In front of a global audience that included African finance ministers, central bank governors, CEOs, and executives of global development finance institutions, as well as African business leaders, including some past presidents, development partners, and African and global philanthropic institutions, Elumelu spoke of the failure of traditional development interventions which have previously characterized development in Africa.
Elumelu challenged the audience to consider a new approach to Africa’s development – one that involved the private sector and was capable of kick-starting the economic ecosystem that underpins all sustainable development. He called this new approach Africapitalism, an economic philosophy which asserts that the private sector can solve Africa’s most pressing challenges through long term investments that create economic prosperity and social wealth.
Elumelu, who is Chairman of Heirs Holdings (http://heirsholdings.com), a proprietary investment company and founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation, called for the private sector to take on the responsibility of development using his personal experience at the United Bank for Africa (UBA).
He made a compelling case for Africapitalism by telling the story of how a USD5 million investment in UBA 17 years ago spawned a multinational, pan-African financial institution that has created 25,000 jobs, generated wealth in communities all across Africa, expanded finance for trade, created stronger financial infrastructure for investment and economic growth, paid taxes to national and local governments to support public services, and given millions of customers control over their financial lives.
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