Driving industrialisation in African, Caribbean and Pacific Countries

ElumeloTony O Elumelu, founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation and Chairman, Heirs Holdings and United Bank for Africa Group, urged African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) heads of state to improve the business environment in their countries to drive industrialisation and wealth creation in ACP member states

He said this while presenting the keynote speech on the theme “Industrialisation and Private Sector Engagement for Economic Transformation of ACP States” at the Presidential Dialogue of the 9th ACP Business Summit in Nairobi, Kenya.

Elumelu stated that industrialisation will not be achieved without support for small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) and improved access to electricity. “We cannot hope to industrialise if we do not fix the issue of power if our entrepreneurs spend so much of their resources to power their businesses, how then are they expected to make the investments necessary to upgrade and industrialise? If we do not tackle these pertinent issues, we will be unable to achieve industrialisation, wealth creation and poverty reduction,” he said.

He highlighted infrastructure development as another critical area needed to achieve sustainable development, highlighting the major role the United Bank for Africa Group plays in achieving this.

“UBA is a force for development in Africa through infrastructure investment and leading the way in cross border payments and services, with the objective of encouraging trade across the continent,” he added.

While citing the impact of the flagship Entrepreneurship Programme of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, Elumelu highlighted that the critical role partnership between the private and public sectors, as well as developmental organisations, play in achieving industrialisation.

The Tony Elumelu Foundation, private-sector-led philanthropy, is on a mission to catalyse the economic transformation of the continent by empowering young African entrepreneurs – more than 7,500 beneficiaries across 54 African countries thus far – through its Entrepreneurship Programme. Elumelu shared stories of beneficiaries in Kenya including Dr Peter Gichuhi Mwethera, who has developed a contraceptive gel, Uniprin, which aims to prevent HIV infection, and Maureen Amakabane whose company, ‘Usafi Sanitation,’ is bridging the sanitation gap in schools by providing waterless toilets.

In closing, Elumelu stressed the importance of including women in the development agenda of the ACP region, commending the European Investment Bank (EIB), for its initiative “She Invest,” which is focused on mobilising around US$1.11bn for women across Africa.

“We at the Tony Elumelu Foundation strive to reach the same goals of uplifting women out of poverty and empowering them with knowledge and resources. This is an invitation to join forces as we have done with the UNDP to lift 100,000 young African boys and girls out of poverty, thereby stemming migration challenges,” he commented.

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