Tony Elumelu's Vision for Economic Transformation in Africa
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African CEOs - June 9, 2023

Tony Elumelu’s Vision for Economic Transformation in Africa

Nigerian entrepreneur and philanthropist, Tony Elumelu strongly believes that the private sector is the key to unlocking Africa’s economic potential. While he understands the critical role of the government in economic transformation he opines that the private sector should lead in the area of development.

His belief is however rooted in the economic philosophy of Africapitalism, a term coined by Elumelu to emphasise the role Africa’s private sector must play in the socio-economic transformation of the continent. In a recent interview, the Nigerian Investor once again highlighted his vision for economic transformation. Let’s take a look at some of the points he addressed.

Pay attention to societal needs while making profits

Elumelu noted that profit-making in the private sector should be done “like capitalism wearing a human face.” He noted that while the private sector contributes its quota to the economic development of Africa, prosperity will be created for business investors. However, as prosperity is created through profit-making, business investors must pay attention to societal needs.

Giving a practical example, Elumelu said, “If you invest in electricity in Africa for instance or in transportation, mass transportation, you’re making profit but you’re helping to alleviate, poverty, you’re helping to catalyse economic development.” He also explained that profit-making must be according to human and global standards.

The former bank chief who once said that “The transformation of Africa is not one man’s job. It is a job for all of us,” believes that private sector investments in Africa will attract global investments. According to him, paying attention to societal needs while making profits will keep everyone largely happy.

Prioritising self-regulation

As a Nigerian Philanthropist leading the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) Elumelu believes that Africa’s economic transformation will also involve self-regulation. He stated that the private sector must know and do what is right. He said, “We need to know that labour exploitation is not good. If your people are not happy, in the 21st century, they will not even give you the kind of productivity that will help you to remain sustainable in business.”

The former bank chief also charged actors in the private sector to equip themselves with the necessary information on marketplace standards. This will help curb excesses and sharpen productivity as they bring about development in the continent. Also, Elumelu believes that institutions and practitioners must be held accountable to higher standards by the global community.

Provide more prosperity to tackle insecurity

Inherent in Elumelu’s vision for the economic transformation of Africa is the plan to tackle insecurity by providing more prosperity. The Transcorp Chairman opines that the level of insecurity drops when people are taken out of poverty. Elumelu once said, “Our people need jobs. Our people need role models.” He believes that once people have access to good lives and better opportunities the challenge of insecurity will gradually become a thing of the past.

Furthermore, Elumelu also stated that an improvement in Africa’s business environment can potentially usher in global investment. He said, “People will want to go places where there is security, where the condition of living is good, where the standard of living is high. Once we can assure this, I believe things will improve.”

Empower the young ones

Elumelu has over the years been passionate about young people. He said, “When I sit with the presidents, I talk about economic development, I give advice whether incoming president, those that are already there or those who are going out, I give them the same advice – let’s prioritise our young ones, let’s create employment for our young ones.”

As a Nigerian entrepreneur who became a Bank CEO at a very young age, Elumelu believes that the transformation of Africa is tied to the younger generation. He also asked the government to review tax laws, and business registration policies, and improve the security situation so that young entrepreneurs can thrive. 

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