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Partner With Us In Empowering African Entrepreneurs: TOE’s Message To Japan

Partner With Us In Empowering African Entrepreneurs: TOE’s Message To Japan 


In my keynote speech, delivered before global leaders, at the 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) in Yokohama, Japan, I challenged the Government of Japan to invest 5% of its $50billion commitment to Africa, in empowering African entrepreneurs.

At TICAD 2016 in Kenya, Japan pledged $30billion for Africa. This year they have generously increased this to $50 billion. 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.

My vision of a relationship between Japan and Africa prioritises economic and shared prosperity. To this end, I outlined three key pillars of a bold and transformative new structure: investment in infrastructure, partnership with the African private sector, and investment in Africa’s youth.

I 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 countries, with seed capital, capacity building, mentorship and networking opportunities through its $100 million Entrepreneurship Programme.

I repeated this message at the Generation Unlimited breakfast meeting with H.E. Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda and UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, which focused on job creation in Africa, where I emphasised the role that African youth plays in this narrative.

Our own track record of business success, founding Africa’s global bank, UBA Group, which has grown its presence to 20 African countries, as well as in the United Kingdom, France, and the USA; and Heirs Holdings, Africa’s private investment company which actively invests in key sectors of Africa’s economy and controls millions of dollars in its investment portfolio speaks for itself. Together, our companies employ over 30,000 people and transform the communities they operate in.

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?

My big brother, President of South Africa and Co-Chair, TICAD, H.E. Cyril Ramaphosa also corroborated my message on this new Africa. “If you want really good returns, as my brother 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.”

Similarly, Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator also praised this Private-Sector led approach to development in Africa. “I want to refer to my dear friend and colleague Tony Elumelu 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”.

TICAD is a three-yearly forum organised by the Japanese Government to advance 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; H.E. Mr. Muhammadu Buhari, President of Nigeria; H.E. Mr. Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, President of Egypt and Chair of the African Union (AU); H.E. Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa; and H.E. Mr. Paul Kigame, President of Rwanda and a host of other African Presidents.

It was an honour to represent the African Private sector at TICAD 7 and to champion the greatest asset that our continent has which is YOU, our young ones. You are the future of Africa and I look forward to more foreign partnerships that prioritise YOU.

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