COVID-19 presents opportunity to boost African economies, says Elumelu
By Collins Nweze
The Chairman, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, Tony Elumelu, has stated that the coronavirus pandemic presents an opportunity to reset the African Continent so that Africans can be empowered to become more productive and self reliant.
He spoke at a roundtable made up of African leaders, including Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Special Envoy of the African Union on COVID-19 and Tidjane Thiam who is also a COVID-19 Special Envoy responsible for mobilising international economic support for Africa.
During the session entitled: Resilient World: An African call for a new world order, Elumelu stated: ”I see this pandemic as an opportunity to reset Africa.’’
Pointing out that Africa as a continent has all it takes to emerge into a strong digital economy, the UBA Group Chairman advocated a martial plan that will galvanise the entire continent and make Africa less dependent on the ‘circularity of debt’ from developed nations, which according to him, has been a major setback for decades.
He said: “I feel that as we engage the rest of the world in providing relief, we need to look for a more fundamental solution to Africa’s challenges. I have often argued for a martial plan overtime. We need to mobilise everyone. If we have a martial plan that mobilises resources to address particular issues, then we can mitigate against this constant begging for assistance.”
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Elumelu further said: “The truth is that we have resources to help mobilise people. As the founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, we committed to endow $100 million to support young African entrepreneurs and we have been seeing the positive results this has yielded so far.
‘’ It is evident that if we can fix access to electricity, ensure stability of the macro-economic environment, ensure prioritisation of the youth, empower our small and medium scale enterprises and fix youth migration, then we are in for a better and more resilient economy’. There is the urgent need to prioritise our youths and empower our SMEs. The people who work hard need to be encouraged,” Elumelu noted.
Tidjane Thiam, who agreed with Elumelu, said rather than depend on international assistance at every point, there is the need for governments and institutions to invest in activities that will prioritise the youth and create a better enabling environment.
“I totally agree with Tony Elumelu. The major challenge is that we do not see enough entrepreneurs,’’ said Thiam.