Elumelu: Africa can be self-reliant if governments prioritise infrastructure

Tony Elumelu, chairman of Heirs Holdings and founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, says Africa can be self-reliant if governments put infrastructure in place for businesses to thrive.

Elumelu, who said this in a statement issued on Sunday, called on African leaders and development institutions to help address the deepening job and employment crisis bedevilling the continent by lending support and paying more attention towards the agricultural sector, creating access to electricity and developing entrepreneurship.

Speaking on the theme ‘How do we create 10 million jobs by 2020?’ at the Youth Connekt Africa Summit in Rwanda on Saturday, the business mogul said access to electricity and increased focus in the agricultural sector would enhance entrepreneurship and tackle the challenge of unemployment through the creation of more jobs in the continent.

He also said the private sector had the responsibility to play the lead role in contributing to job creation in Africa, citing the example of his foundation and its various investments in these key areas which he added is visible from the $100million commitment towards supporting African entrepreneurs over the years.

“Today we have businesses in 20 African countries and employ 30,000 people directly and 50,000 people indirectly. Agriculture, access to electricity and entrepreneurship have the potential to create more jobs in Africa,” he said.

The TEF chief said “Africa can be self-reliant and self-dependent if the right infrastructure and government support are put in place to boost these sectors”. In this regard, he commended the effort of President Paul Kagame for his initiatives in the areas of entrepreneurship and attracting key investments to the African continent.

Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), who supported Elumelu’s stance, acknowledged that agriculture could create jobs for the teeming African population if the youth approached the sector, not just as a way of life, but as a business.

He used the opportunity to commend Elumelu for his work in entrepreneurship and pledged to support the work of the TEF in the creation of jobs.

“I applaud Tony Elumelu’s work in entrepreneurship because entrepreneurship is key. We will help to scale up what Tony Elumelu is doing. If others are doing same, we will succeed in Africa,” he said.

The Youth Connekt Summit, hosted by the president of Rwanda, had 2,500 guests from the private and public sectors.