Invest 5% Of $50bn Pledge To Africa On Entrepreneurship, Elumelu Urges Japan

Afro-centric investor and philanthropist, Tony Elumelu, on Thursday challenged the Government of Japan to invest 5% of its $50bn commitment to the African continent on empowering entrepreneurs.
Addressing global leaders at the ongoing 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) in Yokohama, Japan, Elumelu, chairman of the United Bank for Africa Plc and Heirs Holdings, appreciated the generosity of the Japanese government in raising its commitment to Africa from $30bn in 2016 in Kenya, to $50bn.
“If we invested just 5% 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,” Elumelu said.
He outlined the three key pillars of a bold and transformative structure to include: investment in infrastructure, partnership with the African private sector, and investment in Africa’s youth.
He urged Japan to 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. The Tony Elumelu Foundation, in just five years has assisted over 7,500 African entrepreneurs across every African country, with seed capital, capacity building, mentorship and networking opportunities through its $100 million Entrepreneurship Programme.

Continuing, he assured the gathering that “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.”
For him, the question to ask at this time is, with the world “paying close attention to Africa …is Japan at the centre of this conversation or is it on the sidelines?”
President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, who is Co-Chair of TICAD, while corroborating Elumelu’s stance, told the Japanese government: “If you want really good returns, as Mr. Tony Elumelu said, come to Africa. 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.”
Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator praised Tony Elumelu’s Private-Sector led approach to development in Africa.
He described Elumelu as a dear friend and colleague, “because he alluded to the vital role that business can also play in investing in the future of the youth. These are the kinds of partnership that will drive business and development agenda to very different heights in the future”.
Speaking on the potential of the African continent, Prime Minister Shinzō Abe of Japan said: “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.”
Commenting on the conference, Prime Minister Abe promised: “to elevate the partnership between Japan and Africa, a partnership which has carved out close to 30 years of history, to a new level, drawing also on the power of the private sector.”
Also, in a tweet via his personal handle, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, who is on President Muhammadu Buhari’s entourage, expressed enthusiasm that “Japan is investing in Nigeria to support our defence industry and our public health sector. Businesses are looking at investing in Nigeria and Lagos will be a destination of choice. We will continue to provide the right environment for investors.”
Organised by the Japanese Government, TICAD is a three-yearly forum for advancing Africa’s development through people, technology, and innovation, bringing together government, business leaders, companies and other stakeholders.
The event hosted Presidents and private sector leaders including Prime Minister Shinzō Abe of Japan; President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria; his Egyptian counterpart and Chair of the African Union (AU), Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi; President Ramaphosa; as well as Paul Kagame of Rwanda.