On Wednesday, May 5, 2021, Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, Tony O. Elumelu(CON), was live on AriseTV’s The Morning Show where he discussed business, economy and investments in Africa, corporate governance and gender inclusion and equality.
Here are some impactful quotes from the conversation:
- To a large extent, my mum played a role in shaping me. Even my colleagues wonder why one never gives up, why one is relentless. It is because of what I picked up from her.
- It will be useless of me to say I have money in my bank account if there’s poverty all around us.
- The ease of doing business must improve for the country to retain investment capital.
- Everything we do is all about impacting lives and transforming our society – it is all about leaving our society better than we met it.
- In 2010 when I left UBA as the CEO, I founded Heirs Holdings family investment company that invests in key sectors of the African economy. We basically are driven by our philosophy of Africapitalism – we want to see the private sector play its role in the economic development of our continent.
- We believe strongly that business leaders should be agile, and execute our strategy, only the paranoid survive.
- We need to make sure that we create the right environment that will enable people, businessmen, entrepreneurs to thrive and succeed.
- In business, in the private world, you need to make sure you bring consistency between the external and the internal world; you need to make sure your strategies have been executed as planned.
- I will say that we do have a crop of young, talented leaders and personally; I am impressed with the way they go about their work and accomplishing corporate objectives. We have the right pegs in the right holes.
- People are critical to any business, and if you understand that your human capital is critical, then their health and how they work becomes very important.
- The whole philosophy of Africapitalism is not to look up to the government alone so that we have the right environment for everyone.
- We need to be totally aware of the trend of people moving out of the country to invest in or locate in tangential, smaller economies.
- As it is with every enterprise, you have to think about the economy and be able to manage macro issues and socio-economic issues.
- In business, we are known as turnaround experts: we take businesses and transform them.
- In philanthropy, we are also trying to catalyse the creation of a new crop of African leaders.
- It’s all about transforming our society and making sure that we leave the society better than we left it.
- At UBA, we have a strong succession plan. The pipeline of succession is always there; you can always find 2-5 people that can step into the role at any time.
- Looking back today – I planned to leave UBA at 50, but it happened at 47 – we have done quite a lot. It has always been about impacting humanity. It has always been about transforming everything we do.
- If we look at the area of healthcare, Dr. Elumelu, my wife, she runs our Avon Medical business and Simbo Ukiri runs the Avon HMO business. These are great leaders who help to make this entrepreneurship journey not as difficult as it would have been.
- In the area of healthcare, we are also doing quite a lot to help improve the human capital of the country, we have seen that health is wealth.
- We also believe hospitality is critical for attracting investment into our country and continent and hence the acquisition of Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja. And today we are doing a lot.
- Investment and success in the private sector to a large extent is dependent on leadership surrounding itself with capable hands; hands that are more intelligent than leadership
- In our group, we have quite a lot, and it seems to people that it’s stressful, yes, it is tough, but I am blessed with capable hands. If you look at Transcorp, you have competent leadership, both the CEO of Transcorp, Owen Omogiafo, and the other CEOs that work with her, Dupe Olusola, Vincent who runs our power plant, Chris who runs our other power plant. These are very capable people, and they help to fire our growth.
- At Heirs Holdings, we have the guru himself, Emmanuel Nnorom, who is making sure daily that the engine is running. My job is more of thinking, sitting at board sessions with them and providing some level of strategic direction at that level but allowing them (the CEOs) to do what they know how to do.
On Power Sector:
- Access to electricity we believe is very critical for the economic upliftment of our people and critical for developing our country.
- For the power sector in Nigeria to work well – and it must work well if we are to drive this economy – we need to increase generation, make sure we fix gas supply to generating companies and make sure that the transmission lines are capacitised to evacuate the power.
- Investing in oil and gas for us as a group is not necessarily because of oil, it is more because of gas. We want to be able to assure and control our destiny. Gas from our oil &gas production will convert to electricity.
- We invest in power to catalyse the economic development of Africa.
- Through the Tony Elumelu Foundation, we support young entrepreneurs, and if you ask them what challenges they face in this country, they will tell you it is access to electricity. Any amount you give our entrepreneurs, some of them will not succeed because they spend so much on electricity.
- Access to electricity, we believe, is very critical for the economic upliftment of our people and critical for developing our country.
- We also decided to make sure that we have an integrated energy play, not just power, making sure that the gas field stock that makes the power plants operational is there. That is why we also invested in oil and gas just to make sure the ecosystem is complete, and we can actually help to power our country out of poverty and into economic prosperity.
- This country needs about 100,000MW of electricity a day to power the economy. Today, we operate with less than 5000MW. We must make sure that the powerlines are stabilised.
- Transmission is so critical for the survival of the power sector and for improving access to electricity. In fact, what some of us have advocated is that the entire power stakeholders should have a deal with the FG and take over the transmission lines. It is in our self-interest to make sure it works.
- The Tony Elumelu Foundation’s mission is to grant economic hope and prosperity to #AfricanEntrepreneurs. Job creation is very important for us to have peace.
- Some of us are where we are today because, at some point in our lives, someone gave us a helping hand to pull us up.
- I have seen first-hand, the poverty around us here in Africa. I was born and bred in Nigeria, I have seen both sides of the coin and I have worked and done business in Africa, and I have come to realise that the private sector does have a role to play in developing Africa.
- Through the intervention of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, we want to help encourage them to give them hope through the seed capital we provide, through the training we provide for them, and through the mentoring programme, so that they succeed and collectively all of us can fix the unemployment situation in Nigeria.
- The Tony Elumelu Foundation was set up to create more successful African business leaders. We want to create entrepreneurs who will feed themselves and support our overall economy.
- Global advocacy is that in the 21st century, you must engage with Africa – not from outside, but from within and from the point of view of what we consider important. We appreciate aid but we know more importantly that we want to become “fishermen”.
- We all have a role to play in the development of our continent and we do so by investing in critical sectors of the African economy: infrastructure, power, railways.
- Investing long-term in critical sectors creates economic prosperity for you the investor and at the same time creates social wealth and prosperity and it becomes a win-win for everyone.
- Entrepreneurship has a key role to play in developing our continent.
- We are happy with what we are doing at the Tony Elumelu Foundation; happy to impact lives and transform our continent through the economic empowerment of our young ones.
On gender inclusion, diversity and equity
- Beyond education, empowering women is about making sure that at the table, everyone is there.
- The time has come to realise the immense potential of women. The time has come for us to realise the immense potential of women in shaping and making a good society.
- Women get things done – they are loyal, reliable and extremely committed.
- I am a direct beneficiary of the catalytic impact of women in moulding and shaping societies, and I want to continue to encourage that.
Watch the interview here: https://youtu.be/-R2Bgw8Ihmo