September 22, 2016 By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
Chairman of the United Bank for Africa (UBA), who doubles as Chairman of Heirs Holdings and founder of the multi million dollars Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme, has been crowned ‘Investor of the Year’ at the Africa Investor CEO Institutional Investment Summit hosted alongside the UN General Assembly in New York.
Receiving the ‘Person of the Year’ award on Tuesday, 20 September, 2016 in New York, Mr. Elumelu first acknowledged the staff and management of Transcorp Power, the biggest producer of thermal energy in Nigeria, providing about 18 percent of national output.
He dedicated the award to Transcorp Power staff, whom he said remain committed to realising their dream of improving access to electricity in Nigeria and making their vision of a well-lit, fully powered Nigeria come true.
He said Transcorp Power has supported United States President Obama’s Power Africa initiative with a US$2.5 billion commitment, and further thanked the broader coalition of investors in the African power sector, as he urged other institutional investors to consider long-term opportunities on the continent.
“I also dedicate this to all stakeholders working hard to improve access to power in Africa. I call on others to please join us in this journey to powering Africa out of poverty,” he appealed.
Mr. Elumelu noted that economies of African regional powerhouses like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Uganda, Nigeria and Angola are struggling due to excessive exposure to commodities prices caused by limited diversification, thus proffering a sustainable solution to reduce Africa’s historical external vulnerability.
“Africa has been faced with this same challenge, in my view, for far too long. I choose to look at the recent episodes of economic contraction across the continent as opportunities to diversify our economies and invest in building critical infrastructure, especially in power, to reduce our susceptibility to commodity shocks and break out of the perpetual boom-bust cycles,” he said.
He emphasised that to ensure a different type of growth trajectory for Africa – one that does not rely exclusively on the export of primary commodities – there must be reliable, accessible, affordable power to support industrialisation.
“Industrialisation must occur on a massive scale for our countries to be powered out of chronic dependency on commodities. We must power Africa’s next phase of development, by targeting and prioritising growth of our manufacturing, industries and services and power is the fulcrum that will make this happen,” he posited.
Mr. Elumelu revealed that while there is an abundance of private capital available to be deployed to develop the African power sector, governments must play their part in attracting these investments.
He continued that while there is huge private capital – local and global – seeking investment destinations, global private capital goes to where it is most welcome, adding that the challenge African governments should grapple with is how to ensure they create the environment that will attract and retain these investments in the African continent.
He advised foreign investors gathered at the forum that though there were challenges in investing in Africa, those challenges could be overcome by investing in Africa through partnerships with qualified local partners who possess the right knowledge, requisite capital, and technical know-how
Speaking further, Mr. Elumelu urged private and public sector stakeholders to work together in what he described as “shared purpose”.
He added: “It is critical for the public and private sectors to work together in shared purpose which is a key tenet of Africapitalism – the economic philosophy I espouse which calls for the private sector to play a key role in Africa’s social and economic development by investing in strategic sectors for both economic profit and social prosperity.”