Monday, December 09, 2019

Elumelu tasks ACP countries to help youth accelerate industrial revolution - ITREALMS

Governments across the Africa Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries have been tasked to help youth to be aware and accelerate drive to meet the challenges, capture and channel extraordinary opportunities through an industrial revolution across member countries, reports ITREALMS.

There are over 80 countries in the membership of ACP.

In a keynote address at the Africa Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Business Summit in Nairobi, Kenya on Sunday, the founder of Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) Mr Tony Elumelu gave this charge, urging everyone to take time to check out the TEF Connect and learn more about how individuals could contribute to socio-economic development through mentoring young and eager entrepreneurs.

He observed that talent was not hard to find in Africa, Caribbean and Pacific countries nor was dedication, ideas and discipline which are the components of entrepreneurial success.

“These brilliant ideas cannot exist in a vacuum and it is up to the governments across the developing world to help the growth of Small Medium- sized Enterprises (SMEs),” said Mr Elumelu.

He also said that the enabling environment was the backbone of success with industrialisation and wealth creation for ACP countries, noting that without enabling environment, the dream of industrialisation will be a fleeting illusion.

“We must streamline our bureaucracies, provide infrastructure and stable access to power,” he said, stressing that there was need to promote implementable policies that support industrialization than those hindering people.

“Power is critical, in Nigeria, where I come from, about $10 billion yearly is spent by people and businesses who provide power for themselves. Now, imagine if that money was spent on more productive activities,” he asked.

Insisting that “We cannot hope to industrialize if we do not fix the issue of power, if our entrepreneurs spend so much money to power their businesses, how then are they expected to make the investments necessary to upgrade and industrialize?”

He equally called for a self-honest introspection, emphasising that “if we do not tackle these issues, we will be unable to achieve industrialisation, wealth creation and poverty reduction.”

ACP youthful dividends, he advised, cannot be allowed to waste or can we exclude “our women from our development agenda.”

In addition, he commended the European Investment Bank, represented by Mr. Ambroise Fayolle, for its initiative SHE INVEST, focusing on mobilizing 1 billion Euros for women across Africa, through innovative digital solutions, financial products, climate responsiveness as well as capacity building.

“We at the Tony Elumelu Foundation strive to reach the same goals of uplifting women out of poverty and empowering them with knowledge and resources. This is an invitation to join forces as we have done with the UNDP to lift 100,000 young African boys and girls out of poverty and thereby stemming migration challenges.

“We must develop our industry, improve our knowledge base, the technical capacity of our people must be up scaled. Power and infrastructure are crucial to our success if we are to compete in an increasingly interconnected world with rapidly advancing technology,” he said.

Further, Mr. Elumelu said that there was need for the private sector, governments and policy makers, development partners to all work together through positive engagement to create the right environment and give hope to young ones so that their latent talent can be realised for the development of ACP countries and for peace in the world.

Asked if the Tony Elumelu Foundation will open up physical offices in the sub-region, the Chief Executive Officer of TEF, Ifenyinwa Ugochukwu alluded to efficacy of technology in helping to spread message beyond the nations.

Ugochukwu equally explained why the entrepreneurs do not receive the full $5000 USD grant, saying that the Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) with awardees stated that it would be $5,000 at the Central Bank of Nigeria foreign exchange rate of N306 Naira, lamenting that in Nigeria there are two parallel markets.

“You have the official rate and the black market rate subject to wild fluctuations and as a company that earns in Naira we could not expose ourselves to that which is why we had to peg the currency exchange with the Central Bank which is stable,” said Ugochukwu.

Pointing out that any disparity that the entrepreneurs see is in that exchange rate, just as she acknowledged that they have gotten information that in other countries by the time the entrepreneurs get the grant money which is changed back to their own national currencies there are some limitations.

*Brenda Zulu reporting from Nairobi, Kenya.

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Pix: Ifenyinwa Ugochukwu, CEO TEF.

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