Africa needs to be self-reliance NOT seeking assistance, says Tony Elumelu

Tony Elumelu, chairman of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, says Africa needs the kind of support to move from aid-seeking to self-reliance, self-independent, and sustainable progress.

Elumelu said this at the United States -Africa leaders summit recently held in Washington DC.

The summit themed ‘the innovators gathering: investing in U.S.-Africa cultural and economic ties’, was hosted by the US secretary of state, department of state’s office of global partnerships, the Prosper Africa Initiative, and the Tony Elumelu Foundation.

Speaking at the event, Tony Elumelu said through his foundation, many youths have been supported, who have in turn contributed to transforming the economy.

He further called for more partnerships to accelerate entrepreneurship growth across Africa, adding that Africa needs the kind of support that will enable it to be self-reliant.

“I am an entrepreneur and I know the transformative power of entrepreneurship. In 2010, we started the Tony Elumelu Foundation- a platform that identifies, supports, and trains young, brilliant entrepreneurs. To date, we have disbursed over $85 million to more than 18,000 young female and male entrepreneurs living across the 54 African countries, each with a non-refundable seed capital of $5,000,” he said.

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“Additionally, we have trained over 1.5 million African entrepreneurs, giving them world-class mentorship and business training. We have delivered effective programs to female entrepreneurs in fragile states and are now working on our intervention in the green economy.

“We know we can do much more with partnerships. This is why we have convened this summit in collaboration with the U.S. state department and other US government agencies, to drive a global coalition, an alliance to catalyse entrepreneurship across our continent.

“In the 21st century, the kind of support that Africa needs is one that moves away from aid and prioritises self-reliance, self-independence, and sustainable progress.”

Also speaking, Awele Elumelu, trustee, TEF, highlighted the importance of entrepreneurship in building sustainable economies, particularly in Africa’s response to climate change.

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“No one will develop our economies but us. I see entrepreneurs playing vital roles in transformative sectors including healthcare, technology, and the green economy. We invest in and train entrepreneurs to build sustainability, climate-conscious initiatives into their business models,” she said.

According to her, the gathering was an important opportunity for the Biden administration to demonstrate its support for Africa and to hear directly from African stakeholders on the development agenda needed on the continent – one that empowers, prioritises mutual benefit, and delivers self-reliance.

On his part, Obama commended the effort in putting together the kickoff event.

He also encouraged young African entrepreneurs as well as investors to look towards Africa.

“When you succeed, your country succeeds and that creates an opportunity for everyone,” Obama said.

Attendees include Anthony Blinken, Idris Elba, Yvonne Orji, Eric Adams, New York City mayor, Muriel Bowser, Washington D.C. Mayor, among others, while former President Barack Obama attended virtually.

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