The second day of the 2019 Tony Elumelu Foundation Forum began on a high note with the introduction of an electrifying performance on Africa, rendered by spoken word poet, Donna Ogunnaike.
Then came the plenary sessions by Africa’s private and public sector leaders.
The Private Sector Speaks
We transitioned into the first plenary of the day, moderated by Fareed Zakaria – Moderator/host, Fareed Zakaria GPS, CNN.
On the Private Sector Dialogue session were:
- Tony O. Elumelu, CON, Founder, Tony Elumelu Foundation and Chairman, Heirs Holdings and UBA
- Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Director General, World Health Organisation (WHO)
- Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina President, African Development Bank (AfDB)
- Prof. Benedict Okey Oramah President, African Export – Import Bank (Afreximbank)
- Dr. Sidi Ould TAH Director General, Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA)
- Koen Doens Deputy Director General, Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development, European Commission
- Gilles Carbonnier Vice President, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
High points from this session:
- Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina reported that 12-13 million people enter the job market every year and cannot find jobs. He proposed to African leaders that the narrative should change from Youth Empowerment to Youth Investment.
“It is time for African leaders to create youth entrepreneurship and investment banks for African youth,” he said.
- Dr. Sidi Ould TAH, Director General, Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) pointed out that microfinance has been instrumental to BADEA’s success in Africa. “Our vision is to scale up our intervention with all our stakeholders. We are also in the process of creating new financial institutions to cater to those who don’t have access to formal banking systems,” he said.
- According to Koen Doens, the Deputy Director General, Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development, European Commission. “We want to show that beyond the issue of illegal migration that there is a continent booming. He reiterated that most of the jobs in Europe have been created by small and medium scale firms and there is no reason why African entrepreneurs cannot do the same.
- Prof. Benedict Okey Oramah President, African Export – Import Bank (Afreximbank) spoke eloquently on the impact of financing on SMEs.
- Tony Elumelu commended the partners for the support. He also spoke on the importance of collaboration between the public and private sector, as well as development organisations, to empower African entrepreneurs.
Keynote by Vice President of Nigeria
The second session opened with a keynote speech by Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
He began by sharing stories of entrepreneurs in the Tony Elumelu Foundation alumni network who are making a difference across Africa to inspire the audience. He also seized the opportunity to encourage others to reach aspire to contribute to the development of Africa, as the Foundation has done.
He commended the Foundation’s work in changing the narrative of the African continent. In his words: “By birthing this particular intervention, Tony Elumelu has compelled us to focus on what really matters, our youth and their dreams. The message to Africa’s emerging business giants is a clear one, how and what can you contribute, like Tony Elumelu, to empowering the next generation, helping them to realize their own dreams? And you gathered here in this room, helping you write, rewrite and revise the next chapter of your continent-changing stories”
Founder’s Presidential Dialogue
The Presidential plenary hosted by Fareed Zakaria, featured five African Heads of State namely:
- (Prof.) Yemi Osinbajo, GCON – Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria
- H.E. Paul Kagame President, Republic of Rwanda
- H.E. Macky Sall President, Republic of Senegal
- H.E. Félix Tshisekedi President, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
- Rt. Hon (Dr.) Ruhakana Rugunda Prime Minister, Republic of Uganda
Compere, Dayo Benjamin-Laniyi led the auditorium in singing the national anthems of all African Presidents present. She then called for everyone to observe a minute silence to bid farewell to the late President of Tunisia Beji Caid Essebsi.
When asked about the impressive ease of doing business in Rwanda, H.E Paul Kagame stated that his country has been deliberate in ensuring that things are done differently than what people are used to. He impresses that Rwandans working for themselves and for the country is his greatest legacy.
H.E. Macky Sall President, Republic of Senegal emphasised the importance of agriculture, stating that if the sector is modernised, it would engage a lot of African youth. He added that the public sector in Senegal is putting in place reforms to help fight corruption so that the environment is safe and conducive for people to come and invest.
H.E Félix Tshisekedi President, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) stated that there is a similar initiative to launch entrepreneurship in his country and invited Mr Elumelu to participate. He shared that before he came to power, he had been at the forefront of the fight against corruption in his country. “Corruption is something we fight against in all its ramifications, small and big corruption. Small corruption is at the level of individuals while big corruption is at the level of institutions.”
Rt. Hon (Dr.) Ruhakana Rugunda Prime Minister, Republic of Uganda, ommended the Foundation as it promotes pan-Africanism.
He harped on the need to empower women entrepreneurs: “When it comes to business they have excelled over the men and should be given more support to overcome property ownership impediments.”
President Kagame supported the gender inclusion conversation by informing that women are 62 per cent of the Rwandan parliament, 50-50 in cabinet ministry, and about 35 per cent in local administration. This is possible because the Constitution ensures the threshold of women participation that cannot be decreased.
Dr. Awele Elumelu gave the vote of thanks bringing the energizing sessions to a close.
The UBA Marketplace Tour
The presidents present and TEF Founder, Tony Elumelu led the audience into the UBA Marketplace, to experience the products and exhibitions by African entrepreneurs. They visited stands, tasting food, shaking hands and taking photographs with the businessmen and women.
‘Afro Pop meets High Finance.’
The Tour fizzled out into a fireside chat with the Group Managing Director of the United Bank for Africa, Kennedy Uzoka, and African Popstar, Wizkid.
Wizkid defined success as the number of lives he has touched. He said that he once celebrated N250,000 as the biggest payment he ever received and today he receives more than $1 million in payment.
He stated he is saving money and investing to be able to create a platform that will last for a long time. Wizkid revealed that the biggest challenge, he has faced in the music industry is piracy.
Group Managing Director of the United Bank for Africa, Kennedy Uzoka, officially announced African Popstar, Wizkid as the official UBA Brand Ambassador.
The Founder’s Den Pitch Competition was held and featured six TEF Alumni (and their businesses) from the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme. The entrepreneurs who pitched include: Prince Agbata, Coliba; Nneile Nkholise, 3DIMO; Okey Esse, Powerstove Energy; Nathan Damtew, BeBlocky; Melissa Bime, Infiuss; and Uchenna Okezie. AtYourService.NG.
The panel of judges announced the winner as Mr. Ese, the Founder of Powerstove Energy, a stove that uses alternative energy to power electronic, is an ultra-clean cook stove that burns 70% less biomass, saves lives, generate electricity, improve livelihoods, empower women, and preserve the environment. He was announced the recipient of the $5,000 prize money.
The evening concluded with a live concert featuring DJ Cuppy, Wizkid and Niniola and DJ Neptune.