VP, Govs, Others Move For African Entrepreneurs’ Bank

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday joined the president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwumi Adeshina and founder of Tony Elumelu Foundation, Mr Tony Elumelu, in calling for the establishment of special banks for funding African entrepreneurs.

Speaking at the fifth edition of the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Forum (TEFforum2019) in Abuja yesterday, Osinbajo said the promise must be kept. In the two-day event with the theme, “Empowering Young Africans,” African leaders present were Presidents Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Macky Sall of Senegal, Felix Tshisekedi of Congo DR and Ugandan Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda. Osinbajo advocated that African schools should not only teach science and technology but focus also on critical thinking and entrepreneurship.

“Our continent continues to be defined by unsavoury and unwholesome stories, which do not often accurately represent the reality of life and opportunity. “The people in this room are the perfect and long-awaited counterpoints to those one-dimensional narratives of Africa that have sadly gained ground over the years. “Outside on the streets of every village, town and city are many more individual embodiments of the potential of Africa. But we can change that story; we must fund young entrepreneurs and provide opportunities for capacity building.

“Our school curriculum must emphasise not just STEM (science, technology and mathematics) but critical thinking and entrepreneurship, and the promise of entrepreneurship banks must be kept.” The Vice President said that the event attracted a great representation of what the private sector could accomplish, adding that African governments were challenged to create the enabling environment for all young entrepreneurs to thrive.

Osinbajo said that by birthing the intervention, Elumelu had compelled stakeholders to focus on what really mattered, the youth and their dreams. According to him, the message to Africa’s emerging business giants is a clear one; how and what can you contribute, like Elumelu, to empowering the next generation? The event also featured a question and answers session moderated by Fareed Rafiq Zakaria, host of CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, in which Osinbajo, Kagame, Sall, Tshisekedi and Rugunda fielded questions from the audience. Responding to a question on what the government was doing in terms of boosting entrepreneurship by proving requisite infrastructure and power, Osinbajo said that in the last two circles, the Federal Government had invested about 2.7 trillion in infrastructure,  the highest in the history of the country.

“Beginning with railways, we have started the Lagos-Kano railway; because we very strongly believe that we must connect the country. “We are also doing the Lagos-Kano railway; we have completed the first phase of it; we are going to build the Lagos Port Harcourt railway, among others. “`All of these cost money, which is why we require a good amount of private capital; a good amount of private investment.’’ On his part, Kagame said that Rwanda’s high rating in World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business was achieved by working on the psyche of the people and doing the right things.

He said that Rwandans were made to believe that they could do it on their own.

On his part, Rugunda said that women in Uganda and Africa in general were disadvantaged by cultural issues, adding that affirmative action was needed to empower more African women. Governors Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State, Abubakar Bello of Niger State and Abdulrahman Abdulrazak of Kwara State, who graced the event were also in affirmation of the creation of the bank. Leardership

Pix: Vice President Yemi Osinbajo