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‘Private sector is key to unlocking Africa’s economic & social potential’

-Says Tony Elumelu

October 18, 2017 By Hassan Gbassay Koroma in Lagos, Nigeria

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Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, who also doubles as Chairman of the United Bank for Africa, Tony O. Elumelu, has spoken of his belief that, a vibrant African-led private sector is the key to unlocking Africa’s economic and social potentials.

The philanthropist was on Saturday, 14th October, 2017, speaking at the Lagos Law School, Victoria Island, during the third annual Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Forum in Lagus,Nigeria.

The forum is one of the biggest and most inclusive gatherings of African entrepreneurs, where over 54 African countries representatives meet with business leaders, establish entrepreneurs and policymakers to forge partnerships, share insights and fashion Africa-made solutions to accelerate the transformation of the continent.

It could be recalled in 2015, Tony Elumelu launched Foundation committing one hundred million United States Dollars ($100 million) of his family wealth to identify, train, mentor and fund 10,000 African entrepreneurs over a decade, through the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme.

The Forum hosted more than 1,300 participants from 54 African countries. As the most diverse and inclusive gathering of African entrepreneurs on the continent, the forum continued its strong tradition of showcasing innovation across sectors, including Agriculture, Technology, Healthcare, Fashion and Energy and Power Generation.

“Africa’s development, which must be private-sector led and entrepreneurially driven, will have at its heart, young African innovators and their transformative ideas.  Only they will create the millions of jobs Africa needs. The Forum has brought together Africa’s most important developmental force, her young entrepreneurs who will become catalysts for Africa’s economic liberation,” Said Tony Elumelu.

 He said they have united the African entrepreneurship ecosystem, putting the entrepreneurs at centre stage and thanked heads of government and other key policymakers, who supported his firm belief that the private sector is the engine for growth.

Also speaking, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Chairman of Dangote Group, said the unemployment around the Africa continent is troubling and a 2013 study by Brookings Institute revealed that African youth fifteen -to twenty years constitute about 37 percent of the working age population.

He further that the same age group however accounts for about 60% of jobless people in Africa, adding that working poverty rate among youth in sub-Saharan Africa was nearly 70% in 2016, translating to 64 million working youth living in extreme or moderate poverty.

“We commend Tony Elumelu Foundation for investing in the African youth and grooming them to become future business leaders, who will create the wealth and opportunities needed to actualize  the potentials of our continent,” he said.

In his keynote address, Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof.  Yemi Osinbajo, commended the Tony Elumelu Foundation for his moves to change the history of Africa continent, adding that the generation of young people will do the exceptional, hence they are the reason Africa will work.

The Forum witnessed multiple partnerships as the Foundation signed Memorandum of Understanding with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and French Bilateral Development Bank, Agence Française De Développement (AFD). The Foundation commended the agencies for their commitment to promoting youth entrepreneurship in Africa, and called on other individuals and developmental institutions to partner with the Foundation to expand the scale of its impact.