By Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. (President and CEO of the NNPA)
WASHINGTON – Tony O. Elumelu has emerged on the global business stage as a transformative and effective entrepreneur in energy, agriculture and financial services. The native Nigerian multimillionaire is the chairman of Heirs Holdings, Transcorp, and the United Bank of Africa, as well as the founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation.
After delivering the keynote address on April 26, 2016 at the Global Food Security Symposium in Washington, D.C. at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center before an international audience of government officials and business leaders, Elumelu gave an exclusive videotaped interview to the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA).
“Today, Africa is the land of profound opportunity, development, investment and empowerment,” Elumelu emphasized. Concern was expressed about the lack of overall positive and constructive information about Africa’s commercial and business development in the media. Elumelu stated, “In Africa, with the proper engagement particularly in the energy and agriculture sectors, there can be significant return on investment (ROI).”
During his keynote address on the challenges of the issue of food security for the world’s growing population that increasingly is becoming urbanized, Elumelu affirmed, “I believe that if we transform the agricultural sector, we transform the African continent.”
Elumelu defined the term Africapitalism as “an economic philosophy that embodies the private sector’s commitment to the economic transformation of Africa through investments that generate both economic prosperity and social wealth.”
Elumelu continued: “We see Africans taking charge of the value-adding sectors and ensuring that those value-added processes happen in Africa, not through nationalization or government policies, but because there is a generation of private sector entrepreneurs who have the vision, the tools and the opportunity to shape the destiny of the continent. Africapitalism is not capitalism with an African twist; it is a rallying cry for empowering the private sector to drive Africa’s economic and social growth.”
Tony Elumelu practices what he preaches. A year ago, The Tony Elumelu Foundation launched a $100 million entrepreneurship program with the goal of seeding and supporting education and development of 10,000 African entrepreneurs over the next ten years. Elumelu is also an advisor to President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).
According to recent government studies, it is estimated that 6.3 billion people will live in urban cities by 2050 and that will certainly strain supply of food the world’s population unless plans are made now to produce more sustainable global food production. In other words, there will be a tremendous future market demand for international food development businesses.
African American business leaders and African business leaders should respond to the message, opportunity and mission of Tony Elumelu.
“If the public and private sector work together in shared purpose, Elumelu concluded, “we will be able to retain the desired knowledge and manpower in rural areas in order to support agriculture,” said Elumelu. “We will also be able to control urbanization, because we would have made it possible for our young people to earn a good living and grow their businesses right where they were born and raised as agro-allied entrepreneurs.”