Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, and founder, Tony Elumelu Foundation, Tony Elumelu, were among prominent Africans that have unanimously agreed that entrepreneurship will create the needed jobs, increase the Gross Domestic Products (GDP), and generate revenue for governments on the continent.
Speaking at the 2017 Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Forum 2017, in Lagos, Osinbajo specifically noted that history has a way of tying entrepreneurs down, and can “equally tie us down compelling us to look backwards and becoming a barrier to achieving our goals.”
With the theme, “The Tyranny of History,” the Vice President stated that African political history is dominated by wars, famine, failures of the states.
According to him: “Our economic history is characterised by poverty, infant mortality, illiteracy, among others. Our history can frighten us or cripple our hopes. Our failures of the past are tyrannical weapons of history.
“History is not only a record of the past, it is the past. It is gone. The history of Africa does not determine its future, unless we allow it. The days you live in now are better than the past. Many years ago, mobile phones didn’t exist, and you had to queue for hours at telephone exchange to make calls.
“Today, we can’t imagine life without our smart phones. We are getting nearing beating hunger and famine than before in human history. Tests have shown that the current generation are smarter than the past.”
The professor of law, who sounded philosophical continued, “Dreams pursued with single mindedness are more powerful than facts. Hopes and imaginations are more potent than history because your history is not your destiny.”
On his part, Elumelu noted that entrepreneurship is a bottom-up solution to economic growth and development, focusing on empowering the individual, who in turn creates hope and opportunity in his or her own community.
Through the Tony Elumelu Foundation, he said, “I have committed $100m to identify, train and fund 10,000 African entrepreneurs over a 10-year period, with the goal of realising $10 billion in revenue for the continent and creating a million jobs.
“We want to incubate a new generation so that these young women and men can, themselves, become the catalysts for further entrepreneurial-led growth. The time is now to invest in our entrepreneurs. If Africa invests in our youths, the continent’s GDP could rise by $500 billion a year, and per capita income for Africa will grow by 55 per cent in the next four years.”
He emphasised that “Growth in Africa is our responsibility and our opportunity. Nobody, but us can develop Africa. Africa’s destiny lies in the hands of a new generation of African entrepreneurs. All of us are aware that our continent’s problems cannot be solved with rapid growth in population.
“This demographic explosion and the need to crate meaningful employment for the next generation cannot be solved by more government jobs- we must democratise job creation, and the surest way to achieve this is by creating and empowering entrepreneurs. Only entrepreneurs will create the millions of jobs that we need, to lift our economy out of poverty.”
Dangote in his remarks, identified challenges of power, inconsistencies in policies, corruption, among others as factors dragging the continent back.
The Forbes’ Africa richest man, who described the continent as a land of opportunities, urged “entrepreneurs to always develop solution-driven mindset, think big, start small, be prudent, passionate, build good teams, take risks, and be daring,” adding that failure is a precursor of success.Continuing, Elumelu stated: “If we turn to agriculture, everybody will be rich.”
“The Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship programme is driven by my inclusive economic philosophy of Africapitalism. We believe that a vibrant African-led private sector, with significant participation from entrepreneurs, is the key to unlocking Africa’s economic and social potentials.
“We are already seeing so many success stories. Companies such as CCHub (technology), BudgiT (civic advocacy) and COMSAT (technology), that received support from The Tony Elumelu Foundation, continue to break grounds in creating new tools to make our society a better and more prosperous place
“With bright and creative minds such as these, and the other 3, 000 entrepreneurs that The Tony Elumelu Foundation has empowered over three years, it is only a matter of time before young Africans build technologies that rival the Ubers and ebays of this world, and which have direct application to the lives and ambitions of our people in Africa.”
On their part, Governor Abdul’Aziz Abubakar Yari, of Zamfara State, his Katsina State counterpart, Alhaji Aminu Masari, CEO Honeywell Group, Oba Otudeko, urged the young entrepreneurs to be consistent in the pursuit of their goals.