“To me, UNGA should not just be about talking, it should be much more than that, it should be about execution, about doing things that are important. I speak as an African private sector person; I speak as the Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation that helps to empower young African entrepreneurs. To date, we have empowered over 18,000 and still counting. We give them a non-refundable seed capital of $5,000 each, every year, we train them for 12 weeks, we appoint global mentors to them, and so if anyone wants to be a mentor to some of these entrepreneurs you are welcome.”
Our Founder, Tony O. Elumelu, C.F.R. was invited to a special breakfast to launch the TIME 100 TALK, a new live event series that convenes leaders from every field to spotlight solutions to urgent global problems and encourage cross-disciplinary actions.
This special breakfast hosted by TIME100 on the sidelines of UNGA78, and themed Closing the Digital Divide: The Importance of Digital Equity, was hosted by Jess Sibley, CEO TIME and Hans Vestberg, Chairman and CEO, Verizon.
The conversation centered around the importance of equal access to the same level of digital infrastructure and internet connectivity across the continent.
“I see first-hand the importance of digital connectivity, of access. I also see the negative impact of the digital divide that we have and every time I interact with my young children – I have an 8-year-old young son and he’s almost always playing on his iPad, he tells me everything about sports, he puts me on to so many things. But ladies and gentlemen, each time this happens in my conversations with him, I reflect, I think about those other young African kids who don’t have the kind of access my son has, and I think about the future and the digital divide we are creating. There is so much lack of connectivity on the continent and I am happy that TIME100 is taking this very seriously.”
Our Founder concluded his message by stressing the urgent need for equitable access to technology to create an inclusive digital future, where Africans can benefit from the transformative power of technology.
“I would like us to escalate this to the next level because this is one of those things that will continue to create the divide we have in societies. This is one of the things that can even lead to more extremism in the world. I see my son informed, I see others not so informed, it’s a cause for concern because what kind of world are we leaving for them? I am happy this is happening and I’m also happy that the US Government, I was recently approached by the US Vice President, Kamala that they want to set up a digital initiative in Africa and I welcome it. I think all of us in our own way should collaborate to make connectivity a little more accessible to everyone on the continent and elsewhere in the world where the lack of access exists. I think in doing so, we will play our role in catalysing prosperity, catalysing a safer, saner more inclusive society and one that all of us will be very proud of because poverty anywhere is a threat to all of us everywhere.”
The TEFCEO, Somachi Chris Asoluka also gave her remarks at the Clinton Global Initiative: Greenhouse Inclusive Economic Growth, whew she emphasized the importance of providing young African entrepreneurs with the funding, capacity building support and technical assistance they need to build profitable businesses.
“I’m here to advocate for young African Entrepreneurs, they deserve our attention, they deserve the spotlight, they deserve the capacity building support, the technical assistance and I think most importantly, the funding. So when we think about funding and investing in entrepreneurs, we shouldn’t just look to the West. Africa offers very exciting business opportunities, even more incredible results, and return on investments. It’s a decade for African entrepreneurs!”
The TEF CEO, Somachi Chris-Asoluka also took on the role of a judge, handpicking a winner from 10 social impact startups who are poised to receive a grant of US $25,000 at the session.