AFRICAN investor and philanthropist Tony O. Elumelu has challenged the Japanese government to invest five percent of its $50bn commitment to Africa in empowering African entrepreneurs.
Elumelu made this call during his keynote speech, delivered at the recent 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) in Japan.
He noted: ‘At TICAD 2016 in Kenya, Japan pledged $30 billion for Africa. This year you have generously increased this to $50bn. If we invested just 5 percent in Africa’s new generation of entrepreneurs, following my Foundation’s robust, proven model of getting capital directly to those best placed to catalyse growth and create real impact, we could touch 500,000 lives, across the 54 African countries, broadening markets, facilitating job creation, improving income per capita, and laying the key foundation for political and economic stability.’
Elumelu’s statement captured his vision of a relationship between Japan and Africa, which prioritises economic and shared prosperity.
He outlined the three key pillars of a bold and transformative structure: 1) investment in infrastructure, 2) partnership with the African private sector, and 3) investment in Africa’s youth.
He urged Japan to learn from the example of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, which champions empowering African entrepreneurs, as the most sustainable means of accelerating the development of Africa.
The Foundation, in just five years, has assisted over 7,500 African entrepreneurs across every African country, with seed capital, capacity building, mentorship and networking opportunities through its $100 million Entrepreneurship Programme.
‘Africa is one of the world’s viable destinations for investment. Our huge population, of nearly 1.3 billion people, creates one of the most attractive markets anywhere in the world. The world is paying close attention to Africa, but is Japan at the centre of this conversation or is it on the sidelines?’ he queried.
President of South Africa and co-chair of TICAD Cyril Ramaphosa corroborated Elumelu’s stance.
Ramaphosa said: ‘If you want really good returns, as Tony Elumelu said, come to Africa. Africa presents risk-adjusted returns and is a market in which investments are flowing at a hundred billion dollars – that is the new profile of Africa that is being presented to the world.’