Was this article first published in Libération
Man Nigerian case Tony Elumelu defends the vision of an African economy driven by the private sector of the continent.
Tribune. I had the honor a few days ago to participate in the United Nations headquarters in New York, ratification of new global goals that succeed the Millennium Development Goals, launched in 2000. These new objectives priority are also known under the name objectives for sustainable development. The purpose of the United Nations, by defining them, is to overcome the problems of the African continent, especially regarding youth unemployment.
One of the key factors of positive change in social and political level is economic empowerment. This is different from economic growth. Thus, if Africa has six of the ten countries with the fastest growing in the world, these fast-growing countries fail to make the rest of the continent’s economy up. According to studies by the IMF of 173 countries over the past 50 years, countries with strong social inequality tend to have a weak and unsustainable economic growth. Also, as an African, if we are to meet the challenges of our continent and lay the foundations for sustainable development, we must be more united.
Nowadays, the most visible symptom of economic inequality in Africa is the problem of immigration of refugees to mainland Europe. Yet, according to a study conducted in July by the International Network of Refugees, an international NGO, there are in Morocco 40 000 illegal immigrants from Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana and Francophone African countries. Although the media have shown the tragedies of Syrian migrants, they fail to highlight the problems and lack of opportunities that these migrants face in their respective countries. To find a definitive solution to this problem, the international community should assist African countries in setting up structures that could prevent their action by the desire to seek a better life elsewhere. I think the philosophy of “africapitalisme” could greatly help achieve this goal.
The “africapitalisme” is based on the premise that the African private sector to play a key role in transforming the economy of the continent. Thus only a long-term investment in strategic sectors, will allow Africans to finally enjoy their natural resources and their human capital. In reality, the majority of the continent’s recent economic success has been initiated by foreign multinationals. We can remedy this by developing the capacity of companies to master and assume the complex elements of the distribution chain, allowing us to enjoy the benefits of the exploitation of our own resources. I do not advocate nationalization, but I propose that the African private sector to be more daring in protecting and promoting its own interests.
Gabon is a typical example of the African countries with significant natural resources which recorded economic performance, with growth of 5.1% in recent years, above the continent’s economic growth to 4.5% over the same period. However, like most African economies, Gabon is dependent on oil, which accounts for about 50% of GDP, 60% of state revenues and 80% of exports. This imbalance plays an important role in the problem of unemployment that affects the country, and nearly 20% of assets and 30% of young people. This problem goes beyond the mere fact of establishing new employment policies. A final solution is a restructuring of the Gabonese economy, which would allow businesses and talent of the country to exercise more control over the value added elements of the oil production chain and facilitate a significant impact in the oil sector on the national economy. Recognizing this, I understand the important innovative approach of Gabon and its effort to update the country’s strategic development plan.
One of my main beliefs based on the inherent ingenuity and ability of my fellow Africans to find solutions to the major challenges of the continent. It is with this certainty that earlier this year, I used my own money to launch the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program – a $ 100 million initiative declined over 10 years which has sponsor, train and make available 10 000 African entrepreneurs the capital they need to give life to their ideas. In the first year of the program, 1000 entrepreneurs from 52 African countries were selected, and 30% of selected entrepreneurs started a business in agriculture.
The adoption of “africapitalisme” by companies and governments would facilitate the use of business models more inclusive, development of a friendlier business environment and also encourage everyone to undertake. Furthermore, the “africapitalisme” defines the future of the continent by giving back the keys to development in Africa while putting an end to migration problems.
Europe, which was reborn after numerous wars and crises, is to be a model for Africa, in the sense that it is beneficial to countries like regions to remove regional trade barriers while protecting social rights . It is the responsibility of everyone, both Europeans Africans, working together to achieve our common goals.