2050, 25% of the world’s population will be African. Yet, as President
Obama stated in 2016, Africa’s total GDP is smaller than that of
France, a country whose population is less than half Nigeria’s. The
implications are grave. As I never cease from highlighting, if our
continent does not significantly accelerate the rate of development, we
face a demographic catastrophe.
The solution is entrepreneurship – it transforms a critical challenge into an exciting opportunity.
There are many reasons to champion entrepreneurship – independence, self-realisation, living your dream, but for us Africans entrepreneurship is the route to transformation – social and economic. This is the reason why entrepreneurship is such an important journey for me. We know it is not easy, but entrepreneurship is the most sustainable way to create the opportunities needed on the continent.
In Cape Verde, I shared this message with entrepreneurs and public sector leaders: Entrepreneurship entails hard work, discipline, and sacrifice. Africa needs entrepreneurs who are prepared for the long haul and laser-focused on transformation – creating jobs, generating revenue and achieving measurable impact in their local communities. This is the solution to Africa’s demographic boom.
Discussing investment opportunities with the Prime Minister of Cape Verde
Tomorrow, I take this message to the France Invest Africa Club Conference, where I will speak alongside Bruno Le Maire, the French Minister for Economy and Finance, on the theme: Drivers of African economies and opportunities for investors. The Conference convenes entrepreneurs managing projects in Africa, equity and private debt investors and institutional investors, in one location to discuss policies and investment opportunities.
I will bring a strong and simple message – the African economy has a huge potential for growth. The HH vision and execution is a testament to this. As an investor who has invested in Africa and has reaped success, I will authoritatively state that the best time to invest and collaborate with Africa is now. Our sectors are growing – from agriculture to technology, to the creative industries. The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme gets over 30% of its applications from the agricultural sector, demonstrating the depth of the opportunity. Our entrepreneurs are inventing and creating sustainable solutions, and more importantly, they are willing to export their businesses outside Africa, to attract revenue to the continent. As I always say: give entrepreneurs a reason to stay on the continent and global immigration, the human misery, and waste of talent would become a matter of the past.
During this conversation, I will address three points:
• The value of collaboration. No country exists as an island. France and Africa need to work more collaboratively to achieve their goals.
• Entrepreneurship. Investing in entrepreneurs is the fastest and most sustainable way to create opportunities in an economy.
• The creation of the enabling environment to attract foreign direct investment. Our Governments must play their part, working together to ensure that the continent offers attractive incentives to retain interested investors.
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Thank you et merci!
TONY ELUMELU, Chairman and Founder, Tony Elumelu Foundation