Transcript: Founder’s Dialogue at the TEF Forum 2019
Transcript from the TEF Forum 2019 Dialogue with Tony O. Elumelu, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Director-General, World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, President, African Development Bank (AfDB), Prof. Benedict Oramah President, African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), Dr. Sidi Ould TAH Director General, Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), Gilles Carbonnier Vice President, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Koen Doens, Deputy Director-General for International Cooperation and Development, European Commission and Fareed Zakaria of Fareed Zakaria GPS, CNN as the Moderator.
Fareed Zakaria: I will only ask the panelists to keep in mind the audience they have and the energy and enthusiasm of the audience and I would ask you all to speak directly and from the heart, take all the cliches and talk points that you were given by your staff and throw them away.
Let’s have some truthful discussion, frank, honest and from the heart. so let me begin by asking Mr. Adesina; There’s a simple question I think everyone asks when they look at Africa; why is there not more development, more growth, more entrepreneurs, what can be done to change that? what is the honest answer, as a doctor diagnose the problem and give us a cure.
Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina: Thank you very much Fareed, it’s great to have you in Nigeria let me use the opportunity to thank my dear brother Tony Elumelu, he’s done a fantastic job to put all this together, he has faith and confidence in the youth of Africa and that’s fantastic, Your excellency; Mr. Vice President, it’s good to see you sir, and all the excellencies; Mr. President of Senegal, President of DRC, Prime minister of Uganda, your excellency first ladies please welcome and Mrs. Elumelu.
Africa is not arising, it’s already risen and the reason for that is that even when; let’s talk economics for a moment if you look at the economic growth rates of Africa to date, Fareed this year we project that the economic growth rate (GDP) will be 4%, next year 4.1% but that doesn’t tell you the story and the excitement of this continent you have 22 countries that are growing at well over 5%, you’ve got 21 countries that are growing at 3-5% now I know many of you would swim, if your head is above the water global average GDP growth rate is 3.2% that means Africa is actually doing well and Africa is resilient. But however, I must be very quick mention that GDP growth rate is important but nobody eats GDP, GDP itself doesn’t really create jobs , the challenge that we have, the honest challenge we have as we sit here is a very humbling one, that we have six hundred and seventy-eight million young people that actually are there in Africa today, 12-13 million people enter labour market every year, they can’t find jobs, only 3 million of them can find jobs, and so when we talk about growth, the growth has to be a growth that creates jobs and I don’t mean any kind of jobs, I mean quality jobs to have a decent living and so we’ve got to really do in my view is to look at the young people of our continent that are going to grow about eight hundred and forty million people by 2050, a billion people by 2063. we can’t keep postponing their future into the future, we have to help them today, the young people are n to liabilities that are assets and when you go into a bank as a young person you enter right there, nobody sees an asset, everybody sees risk risk risk and risk. well as president of AfDB this is the point I want to make is that we must begin to put capital at risk for the young people of Africa, fundamental. Now we have so many presidents here, our excellency Mr vice president is here today, why do we have this problem a growth process that doesn’t generate jobs that is because we have missing institutions, that could take off al this six hundred and eighty million people, we have market failure, the current market system doesn’t provide financing to them, you have governments that are not playing their role enough, while we are producing so many people that are just jobless. Poverty is not an asset, I mean I’ve been going around and looking for how to create comparative advantage, I’m still looking for how poverty can be a comparative advantage is not and so what we would have to do, therefore, Tony is doing a fantastic job and we think we should clap for him again. However, it’s more than Tony, it’s more than each one of us what I want ti propose today is this; that it’s time for African leaders, African governments to begin to shift from youth empowerment to youth investment and in trying to do that we have to correct Fareed for those three fundamental failures, the missing institutions, market failures, and government failures, to do that I propose the it’s time we begin to set up youth entrepreneurship and investment banks, let me explain myself so that I am very clear, banks where you walk into and they see assets they don’t see liability, where you walk into they have faith and confidence in young people who can actually help you to grow; UBA and others grow your business, what does this mean, that means that we have to de-risk lending to businesses of young people, I like the CEO of Tony Elumelu Foundation, she was talking about 5 billion dollars, what is 5 billion dollars, create a million entrepreneurs, create 20 million jobs, it is time I believe your excellencies and I want to congratulate you for all your magnifiqe work, that’s french for fantastic work that you are doing, I think it is time for us to create banks that are youth entrepreneurship investment banks for Africa, when we do that finally Africa will fly and fly high, but the youths that I see in front of me in your various countries they are not just the future of Africa, they are the present and we have to start investing in them from today.
Fareed Zakaria: Let me ask Dr. Sidi Ould TAH of the Arab Bank for Economic Development, you invest in a sense in this continent in a way that Mr. Adesina was just asking, what is the most successful strategy where do you find the opportunities, what do you think is succeeding in Africa, especially with regards to youth entrepreneurship
Dr. Sidi Ould TAH: Thank you very much, first of all allow me to present my congratulation to Mr. Tony Elumelu for this excellent initiative and to express deepest regards to your excellencies; head of states and governments, the first ladies and all the audience and I would like to speak to the youth of Africa, the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa has been mainly dealing with public sector for the past 4 decades providing, financing for development project and mainly infrastructure but today we have just launched our 20/30 strategy which will focus youth and women empowerment. How can we do that? we will not do it alone, we need partnership and this is why I was happy to accept the invitation of Tony to attend this forum, it is all about partnership, no institution, no country can alone have a success in fighting poverty, in empowering youth and women but it is all about partnership this is why, we would like to partner with government, without government nothing can be done we are already partnering with African Development Bank, but we do much with UN institution with foundation and we are already discussing with Tony Elumelu Foundation, we have partnership to empower youth across Africa, Arab banks for Economic Development so far working with youth and women in Africa, we have the most investment we made so far was in micro finance and we have to acknowledge micro-finance, financial inclusion where as the main driver who is just Arab bank for Economic Development has success across Africa, we need more and just providing finance access to finance is certainly a big issue not only for sme’s but also for youth entrepreneurs, techpreneurs, agropreneurs even sociopreneurs, we need also to develop capacity building and this is why across everything pillar of our new strategy is capacity building, where have been working with ACBF; Africa Capacity Building Foundation to develop women and entrepreneurs to capacity in many African countries and we are ready to scale up in term of providing capacity building in partnership with relevant institutions in Africa so our vision for youth and women in Africa and entrepreneurship is to scale up our intervention to rely on our partnership with all stakeholders and to provide more resources for entrepreneurship. so far we have been working with SME’s through a line of financing to banks and we are also in the process of creating new financial institutions to cater for the needs of those who don’t have access to the formal banking system and we do believe that there is a market niche not only for the banks but all the FI’s provide resources for those who cannot access the formal banking system, we rely on partnership and we are here to work with all the youth organization, with all the civic society, foundation and with the private sector of course and the government. Thank you.
Fareed Zakaria: Let me ask about a different type of partnership, let me ask the gentleman from Europe Doens of the European Commission, we know that Europeans are now very worried about immigration and migration and they are taking many efforts to stop it or regulate it or control it, but there is understanding in Europe that the fundamental solution to this problem is to help Africa develop so that you do not have as much of a pressure to migrate and if that is the case what kind of ambitious partnership can Europe offer to Africa?Koen
Koen Doens: Thank a lot and thanks Tony for inviting me over here, let me start with where Fareed started; migration, the big advantage we’ve had with migration is somehow that it has put Africa much bigger on Europe’s radar screen than ever before but somehow thanks to migration Europeans have started to understand that what happens in Africa doesn’t stay in Africa and that the future of Africa immediately affects the future of Europe, that’s the first change. Now we are very keen and I think this process has started to look beyond that, now that Africa has captured the attention we want to show that behind the immediacy of migration there is a continent that is really booming, and I think that what we are seeing here today all the dynamism, the power, the energy of African entrepreneurs and what we see today is just the tip of iceberg, we see it all over the place, in plenty of countries, how young Africans, middle-aged Africans are having entrepreneurial spirit and entrepreneurial skill.
Now, if I look at Europe; 99% of Europe’s companies are small and medium-sized enterprises, 85% of the jobs created over the last 5 years in Europe have been created by small and medium-sized enterprises there its no reason why African entrepreneurs cannot do exactly the same in Africa and that is where we want to move now in Europe, which is we want to support this enormous potential of African entrepreneurship with our expertise, with our means and the starting point for that is of course a shift of mindset in Europe, if I look at what the president of the European Commission said last year in his state of the union he made a proposal for a new Africa Europe alliance on investment and jobs and that’s what we are now developing, we are looking at how we can use our means to support Africa in terms of developing and attracting, making easier, investment; public investment, private investment. we are now heavily going to invest in skills in; in vocational and educational learning because when jobs are created you also need people who are capable of taking those jobs we are actively and Tony knows it looking into partnering with a sizeable amount of money. The development commissioner is absolutely keen on getting it done, partnering with the Tony Elumelu Foundation to basically provide funding so that he can scale up his business to provide and train entrepreneurs. the third field of action is market, entrepreneurs need market, and we all know that market building, national market building, regional market building, and continental market building is absolutely something that Africa needs and that Africa wants to do and we are partnering with the African Union Commission and with most of the African member states to make the continental African free trade area a reality, we have a lot of expertise to offer, 30 years before we got what is it, the treaty of Rome, the single market to get that lifted, we have some expertise to offer on how to do that on the hard work that it takes, the studies and that leads to my final point which is that we really want to partner with Africa, which is that it is important to set strategic goals or strategic guidelines, but the hardwork requires in-depth analysis, it requires studies, it requires work at a level, like what Tony Elumelu Foundation is doing with sets of entrepreneurs to monitor, mentor and to support them, that is clearly why Europe is moving the timing for this move, it has started as I’ve said, the timing is perfect we are now entering into a new political cycle in Europe with a new European commission, with a new multi annual budget which we would start to program and so the setting is right now to shift the way in which we partner with Africa to make it more a real partnership of equals where we focus less on Africa’s problem and much more on supporting Africa’s solution.
Fareed Zakaria: Monsieur Carbonnier from the Red-cross you have already partnered with the TEF and i think it will be useful to get some sense of what are the lessons you have drawn, what are the successes, what are the areas these kind of partnerships work best.
Gilles Carbonnier: Thank you Fareed, excellencies, heads of state, first lady, distinguished guests, dear African entrepreneurs and friends, indeed we are extremely proud to have pioneered a partnership with the Tony Elumelu Foundation, who jointly invest in you as we are suggesting, and we do that because we are working with about half of our staff energy and commitment in Africa and while we are working with communities with people affected by sometimes protracted vices, by waves of violence and conflict, we listen to them and what the communities say to us is we don’t want to live on handouts, we are looking to get inner crisis moment support but we want to get our destiny in our own hands also we want dignified way of life, actually we discovered that they have not only a lot of agencies but also a lot of initiatives that would provide solutions that we cannot provide, so we have been extremely glad and happy to be able to start doing so in Nigeria first, in Borno state and else where investing not only in concrete business plans with young African entrepreneurs but also investing in training in equipping them with the necessary knowledge and i think that is absolutely critical for development because very recently i was at a development finance institution gathering where all these development finance institutions were saying why can’t we invest more in fragile context, in difficult context, where institutions are weak and the main issue that came out is that it is not the lack of capital sometimes a excess of liquidity but it is the difficulty to find bankable projects with entrepreneurs we source on track records that have the financial literacy and also capacity to present solid business plans so again thank you to Tony Elumelu and the Foundation where few regards to continue and build on these initial successes and i think that another manner to really try to find, innovative solutions is what you have mentioned as partnerships, we have started to partner in new financial models to bring the expertise and resources of different actors to bear, to find solutions to maintain critical insfrastructure provide livelihood and livelihood means and capacities to people affected by violence and conflict. one example that I want to give you that we have launched 2 years ago impact bond, and this impact bond brings investors who will invest in projects where we build physical rehabilitation centres in mali but also in DRC and in Maiduguri and investors are taking risks and outcome funders mainly states ready to pay back if we achieve our stated objectives including in terms of training the personnel to really run this properly and I’m glad to announce that we are considering 2 more impact bonds for next year, one to provide access to education in south Sudan especially in zones that are under the control of the opposition and the other one to provide an extension to a water provision service and water board. I think that by bringing these financial models will not only bring new resources but also the skills and know-how of different stakeholders in Partnerships. to conclude, i just want to follow on your invitation to speak from the heart I’ve been over the past 15 years a development economist and I think of students from Africa conducting research we the African Partners in different universities in Africa and i think that what we witness yesterday and today is extremely rejoicing in terms of having the dynamism that is willing to invest in Africapitalism in finding African solutions in terms of African issues and I am very glad to participate in this endeavour.
Fareed Zakaria: Let me ask Professor Oramah of the African Export-Import bank about a different kind of partnership and cooperation which is among the nations of Africa, I remember when I was running newsweekly magazine, we would find it difficult to position our African correspondent somewhere in Africa because there were so few flights between African countries that were actually easier to put the person in London or Paris, the could reach more of Africa by being in London than by being in Africa and that is in the sense a metaphor for the lack of cooperation and the lack of inter-African dialog, trade, communication. Is that going to change because in order to build genuine entrepreneurship, you need scale, you need an African wide market, you need an African society almost, are we approaching that?
Professor Benedict Oramah: Thank you very much, you excellencies, heads of state, first ladies, senior officials of the Nigerian government, Vice President, your excellencies, heads of international organisations, governors, the youths. I will speak from my heart as you suggested, before talking about the kinds of partnership we have and what they predict for the future about integrating the continent, let me first to say to you that a lot has happened with the continental free-trade agreement haven’t been signed the single entrance haven’t been signed by a number of African countries, but let me go to entrepreneurship and how it connects, we talk a lot about we have to invest in infrastructure, we have to invest in this and that to create entrepreneurs and those entrepreneurs would change Africa, i think these are important but I think we are missing one thing, that one thing is our people because if you look at the world there are developing countries where they have built the infrastructure, where they have a lot of money but look at their development indices today and compare it to the indices in South Korea, Japan and all that and you see that very far away, and then you ask yourself is infrastructure the problem? if it is then those countries would’ve been somewhere else, I think it is people, we have to re-orient our people to be daring, to take risks, we can talk about policies that will make people take risks but in this world where we are in, global competition is intense, if we don’t take our future in our own hands and dare, we are not going to take advantage of the opportunities that exist in Africa, 60 years ago, Many African countries did not have independence, many of the youths here would go to their countries and there are so many places they would not be able to go to because of a situation, for south Africa just 30 years ago. today they can go everywhere, so our leaders have done a lot but our youths and all of us; the officials and all that we forget that we’ve won a political battle but we are now in the midst of an epic economic struggle and that is political battle was won because our fathers and fore fathers were talking of work-life balances in their offices, they work 5 hours or 6 hours in their offices, because they were in the bush fighting as gorillas, they didn’t talk about work-life balance today the soldiers in the economic battle are the youths, the training grounds would not be in the training camps they are in the Universities, the innovation hubs would be where our soldiers would be trained and we ask ourselves how many of the people would you tell would give everything, spend hours as the japanese did and the Chinese did and are still doing to be able to create wealth for themselves knowing that they do that they will create wealth for everybody, and that brings me to my suggestion to the Tony Elumelu Foundation, when you do the selection maybe one criterion should be the passion, the orientation of the people you select so that it’s not just the proposal they give to you because you can give the best proposals but you do not have the daring as you did Tony to become rich, they will not create the kinds of jobs we are looking for so with the Africontinental free trade agreement the market would become greater, we need to create access to those market, we need to provide more information about what is happening across Africa so that our youth, our entrepreneurs, our businesses would know where the business opportunities exist, how to evaluate risk and how to take those risks, we need as governments now, to provide the kind of interventions that will make people to take risks, because it is those interventions that will give the entrepreneurs the confidence to take the risk, if you don’t have venture capital funds for example, just something similar to what Tony is doing in a different way, you can make all the investments you want to make in infrastructure, creating the wealth, as i look at the Youth here i thank Tony for bringing them so we can all share our views from our hearts and i hope they can all leave here knowing today that what they are engaging is beyond themselves it is in a struggle to get Africa to rise, to no longer be seen as the scum of the earth. Thank you.
Fareed Zakaria: Let me ask the Director-General W.H.O Dr. Ghebreyesus to talk about a sometimes forgotten dimension of African growth. Dr. Ghebreyesus has experience because as foreign Minister of Ethiopia you were instrumental in coming up with a number of very innovative healthcare schemes. there are some calculations that say there is a 60-70 billion dollar gap in spending on health care in Africa needs to be done, now what that says to me is this is to going to be done by government, that there is a role for the private sector and that means a role for entrepreneurs. tell us a little bit about the healthcare environment and to what extent are their opportunities here for entrepreneurs and private businesses.
Dr. Ghebreyesus: Thank you very much your excellencies, heads of state, heads of government, your excellencies first ladies, excellencies friends, and colleagues. first of all, I was here yesterday and I use the opportunity I spoke a lot and today we’re all colleagues here I have another opportunity so I’ll try to be brief because I have said many of the things yesterday. I would start with the opportunities that the continent itself fi creating. one has already been said last July, the free-trade agreement already finalised so all countries are in and this means the entrepreneurs have now a big market, the biggest market on earth actually and that include the health sector i think this is a very good news for this generation, bringing Africa together and then the second milestone this year is last February there was a resolution by the heads of state during the African Union summit in Addis calling for increased domestic resource mobilisation and as you know domestic resource mobilisation means opportunities for investments and also stressing the importance of working with the private sector, so that resolution I think this year was key.
Many countries are now trying to improve their environment of doing business and that’s very important and the other good thing is many other countries are now identifying and having public policy to encourage the private sector especially in three areas one in not only in the services which is the traditional one but in the manufacturing industry including special focus on small and medium enterprises, in medical education and manufacturing so I think seeing the investment in the health sector as part of the overall investment and giving attention specifically like what the AU did in February is very crucial but going back to what I said earlier, Dayo the Master of Ceremony was asking the entrepreneurs where they are formed and I couldn’t hear what they were saying and I asked someone next to me and they told me each person mentions his own country then it reminded me what President Museveni said a few years ago. I think the answer could’ve been in Africa because of the origin of humanity from Africa.
He says the type of people on earth are actually two types, Africans and ex-Africans, because the origin of humans are actually Africans and which is true but the reason I’m raising this is because of the free trade agreement all field of Africa is now called entrepreneurs from Africa to really play their part and increase the inter-Africa trade to the maximum, the intra-trade in Africa is about 11% not more than 13%, which is not going to help our growth in Africa. then the last part investing in youth is smart investment, but not only a smart investment it’s a must, because especially in Africa the majority is young if you play it well, invest in the youth there would be demographic dividend which can ensure prosperity in Africa if there is no investment in the youth the alternative would not be demographic dividend but demographic bomb and destabilise as many countries so that is why it’s not only smart investment in youth but also a must but we should do it for the sake of prosperity, but if we don’t there are repercussions because of the unemployment which can end up destabilizing countries and the health sector in here should be taken as one of the important investments because millions of gaps that should be filled and can help in the prosperity of countries.
Fareed Zakaria: Those were fascinating comments and I particularly like your characterisation of the people in the world, I did a special report on white supremacy, I wish I had known that phrase I would’ve mentioned to the white supremacists that were actually all ex-Africans.i think that would’ve horrified them but would’ve made the point very well.
Tony when you listen to all this, you are looking at it now from the point of entrepreneurship, “welcome President Kagami”. Tony, when you look at all this and you hear this conversation and you are thinking about the role of entrepreneurs and of small and medium enterprises (SME’s) what is your reaction to the conversation looking at it almost as you are now the excellency ambassador for all African entrepreneurs, what does it look like to you?
Tony Elumelu: I am happy that there is a fair convergence that in the 21st century the development of Africa first lies in our hands, two that entrepreneurship is a way to sustainable development, three that self-reliance is key and what we all should seek to achieve when we are living. I like the fact that today we have in the audience, presidents of African countries who are committed to the development of our young ones who have realised that as we prioritise our young ones we also prioritise the development of the continent that is fantastic. I am happy also that we have international agencies; European Commission, Red-cross and the W.H.O and of course regional institutions and I like the question about Intra-African movement transportation, maybe Dr. Adesina and Professor Oramah and also my friend Dr. Sidi Ould TAH would maybe touch that again because transportation is key for the development of our continent and what you said is so right to go to neighbouring country we would have to fly to Paris and come back or go to South Africa and come back, we need to fix for development. but let me say that the young African entrepreneurs the stage is now yours to take and actualize your dreams and aspirations what we do at the Tony Elumelu Foundation to create this kind of platform for all of you, give you the opportunity to interact with our leaders and give you little seed capital to help you prove your idea so that our young ones don’t go to the grave with their ideas, we want to see you succeed and I am happy that everyone is on board, about prioritising you about supporting you about providing extra capacity to enable you to become indeed our true future leader, I like what the European Commission just said, he said this is the beginning of a new political cycle that a lot will be done to support African entrepreneurs in partnership with the Tony Elumelu Foundation and the institutions, that is great and we will like to see more. Yesterday and announcement were made by the APC (Asia- Pacific Caribbean) Platform wanting to support an additional 2000 African entrepreneurs to the Tony Elumelu Foundation, we want to see more of this. I’m happy the African Development Bank supported 1000 African entrepreneurs. Our export-import bank is also pushing to support her contract with the TEF to help scale up the entrepreneurs we are supporting and hopefully we would like them to support more and provide seed capital so that we have more of you benefit from this program because it is important to have the opportunity to prove your ideas and that is why the 5000 dollars is so important, then we can scale that up, but if we don’t give you the opportunity to prove your idea, you don’t even have the opportunity to scale up and so we appreciate what Afri-Nexim is doing and we need them to do more to support and then the Red-cross is wonderful, they were the first international partners we had and they supported 200 entrepreneurs from the Niger delta and from the northeastern part of Nigeria and now they are ready to do more in fragile economies.
To us, this is the changing narrative and this is the changing mindset we would like international development institutions should have that the way to intervene and support Africa, we should support from the point of view of helping Africans to become self-reliant. someone of us grew up seeing the Red Cross as that institution that helps, we need to prevail. let’s empower young ones so there’ll be no crises, I like this mindset and we need to do more. We’re lucky to have Doens here and for him to make the commitment he’s making here we cannot have it better.
There is a blessing in the migration crises that people now know, that what happens in Africa doesn’t stay in Africa, it can happen everywhere. poverty to us somewhere is a threat to us everywhere. the more we come together to provide solutions, prosperity, make sure our young ones are engaged the better for the world. so thanks so much we look forward to doing so much under your leadership.
It will be nice your institutions AfDB, Nexim to come together to improve Africa-movement, we need to use the platform that you all have to attract global capital to develop new and modern infrastructure.
To our brother from the W.H.O, we all know that a healthy world would breed prosperity.
I want to thank our presidents for their wonderful support
Fareed Zakaria: Let me close where Mr Adesina began that is with the hopeful note that there is much happening in Africa, there is growth but it is with the same cautionary tale that you told, some of this growth is happening from a very low base so when you are growing at 5% GDP you need to sustain that, growth must be inclusive, unemployment must keep coming down and in order to do that as you described, there are there 3 failures, but what have to focus on there is this extraordinary energy represented by the TEF entrepreneurs, I would love to see the same energy and dynamism in the government to open up the system for this people, and seems to be the perfect transition to move from our panel of experts to the next panel, which is all the heads of government. So, ladies and gentlemen thank you very much.