Chairman of Heirs Holdings Tony Elumelu has called on African leaders to think towards democratising prosperity, saying he prefers everyone to prosper than money being in the hands of a few billionaires.
Mr Elumelu stated this during a fireside chat with CNN anchor Eleni Giokos while discussing changes that have swept across Africa post-pandemic and the future of the continent at the 2021 World Government Summit held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
“Instead of us having a pyramid of a few billionaires, I prefer a large base that has prosperity, happier people and people whose basic human needs are met. I think this is what will give us the sustainability we need in Africa,” he said.
The founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) said the COVID-19 pandemic presents an opportunity for African leaders to prioritise driving poverty out of the continent.
“I say it anywhere to people, poverty anywhere is threat to mankind everywhere. And in Africa, you see poverty first hand. So entrepreneurship and support for small and medium-scale enterprises, in my viewpoint, is one of the ways we can address this issue in a fundamental fashion,” he said, calling on African leaders to invest in improving access to electricity in order to digitise the local economy.
Elumelu, who is also chairman of UBA Group, said although the group did not prepare for COVID-19, it has adapted quickly to it.
On the TEF entrepreneurship programme, Elumelu said: “We committed $100 million to this. Yes, it takes a lot. But it seems to me that it is in our own self-interest to do so. What excites me in all of this experience is seeing young Africans do well. With just $5,000, I’m always amazed at what I see as outcome. But the good thing is that the $5,000 helps them to put the idea together and other investors can come in to invest in their ideas. We want to create our future Steve Jobs out of Africa, we want to create our future Bull Gates out of Africa.”
Elumelu encouraged investors to think long-term in Africa, saying there is nowhere else in the world where one can get high return on investment than in Africa.