Tony Elumelu Speaks on How Innovation Drives Growth
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Tony Elumelu Speaks on How Innovation Drives Growth

In a business era defined by disruptive technologies, shifting consumer behaviours, and evolving market dynamics, Nigerian Entrepreneur and Investor, Tony Elumelu speaks on the essence of understanding the critical role of innovation.

Elumelu’s extensive experience in various sectors provides invaluable insights into how businesses can harness innovation to navigate challenges, seize opportunities, and drive sustainable growth. His foundation, the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) has catalysed the growth of thousands of businesses across Africa, providing them with mentorship, seed capital, and access to crucial resources.

As we forge ahead, we will gain insights from Elumelu on how innovation can be harnessed to drive growth.

Fostering entrepreneurship through the Tony Elumelu Foundation

The Founder of Tony Elumelu Foundation once said “Entrepreneurship means Africans no longer have to find a job or be trained to be employees. Instead, it will enable our young people to create their own jobs, become employers, and take charge of their futures, instead of letting the future happen to them.” 

The above statement highlights the role entrepreneurship plays in driving economic growth. Encouraging a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation can unlock the creativity and drive of African youth. By providing access to mentorship, capital, and resources, the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme empower aspiring entrepreneurs, enabling them to transform their innovative ideas into successful businesses. 

This, in turn, generates employment opportunities, boosts productivity, and contributes to overall economic growth. Speaking about the Foundation Elumelu said, “My vision for the foundation is to unlock the obstacles that African entrepreneurs face, so that they, rather than aid agencies or governments will spur the continent’s transformation. We must all work hard to put the youth out of the streets. Failure to do so will spell doom for all of us. ” 

African youths need technological opportunities

Adopting technologies like artificial intelligence, blockchain and renewable energy can drive innovation-led growth across various sectors. Speaking about the role technology plays in economic growth, Elumelu said, “African youth need technological opportunities. They need hope. They need tech for good and they want tech for all”.

Investing in research and development, and promoting tech startups can revolutionise industries and break traditional barriers. For instance, advanced farming techniques, precision agriculture, and the use of drones for crop monitoring and irrigation can optimize yields and reduce post-harvest losses.

The Role of Ideas in Africa’s Transformation

The former Bank Chief in one of his quotes said, “Your idea can transform Africa. Let’s stop talking and let’s start doing.” If Africans stop talking and start innovating, the continent will see the growth they desire. Elumelu who said, “Innovation is the key to unlocking Africa’s economic potential” noted that “the future we all want for ourselves is one of our own making.”

Ideas spur innovation and entrepreneurship. When people have new ideas, they can start new businesses and create new products and services. This can lead to increased productivity and economic growth. For instance, the M-Pesa mobile money service developed in Kenya has revolutionized the way people in Africa access financial services.

Africapitalism is not exclusive to African businesses

According to Elumelu, Africapitalism is the nexus between the ability of the private sector to create value and the government’s creation of a business-friendly environment. It is the intersection of making profits and doing good, and not waiting to finish one before doing another. 

Coined from Elumelu’s passion for entrepreneurship, Africapitalism emphasises the role Africa’s private sector must play in the socioeconomic transformation of the continent. This is because innovation in the private sector can revolutionise healthcare delivery and educational systems in Africa.

Dangote’s Refinery: a worthy product of Innovation

Speaking at the commissioning of the Dangote Refinery, Elumelu said the $19 billion oil refinery “is a worthy project, that we should all be proud of. The refinery has many positive implications. We have almost a whole country springing up out of this investment… employment will be created, foreign exchange will be conserved for the country and for the first time we will produce and refine oil in the country…”

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