Tony Elumelu, group chairman, United Bank for Africa (UBA) and one of Africa’s top businessmen, has stressed the need to change the African narrative while concentrating on the myriad of opportunities inherent on the continent.
Speaking during Richard Quest’s programme on CNN aired on the sideline of the ongoing World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Thursday, he said that the continent’s economic transformation and stimulation should be the focus of all governments and global institutions.
According to him, the continent needs its rightful position as a strong regional player in the international community, owing to its numerous investment opportunities.
Elumelu, who is the Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, said the time had come for governments on the continent to put things in place to ensure that the continent which has great potential, lives up to it; adding that already, there are signals of the greatness all around.
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“The time has come for us to prioritise our young ones, who are the future of this great continent. These are the men and women who are energetic in Africa and who can perform wonders if the enabling environment is there.
“We need to get it right with infrastructure in Africa and with the macro-economic policies and environment. And the good thing is that things are gradually falling in place. I think Africa promises good investment opportunities, the problem has always been creating the right environment for it, and this should be our major focus,” he stressed.
He added that in Zimbabwe, for instance, there have been recent concerted efforts by the government and the people to change the narrative, adding “I am optimistic about what is happening in Africa right now, because our leaders are getting it right and in fact what has happened in Zimbabwe is also an indicator of great things to come. The fact that they on their own decided to sort things out the way they did, is a new kind of democracy that the world needs to learn from.”
He noted that there is so much private global capital looking for the right destination, which can go to Zimbabwe as in other African nations, once the right environment is put in place.”
While pointing out that the blame game which previously obtained on the continent should be done away with, Elumelu called for increasing support from the private sector as well as key stakeholders to make Africa and African self-sufficient.
“We can’t keep talking about missed opportunities. What I keep saying to people is to put an end to the blame game. Let’s begin to fix what needs fixing and get things right. Our government should get it right, the private sector should come forward and we need to support the young African entrepreneurs; create economic hope and opportunities for them.
“We need to think of how to engage Africa in the 21st century because it is no longer about giving grants and aid to Africa, it is more about engaging them in a way that creates self-sufficiency; independence; and reduces the perpetual syndrome of dependence.”