Elumelu says Covid-19 Presents Opportunity to Reset Africa
The Chairman of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, Tony Elumelu, has stated that the Coronavirus Pandemic currently ravaging the world presents an opportunity to reset the African continent so that Africans can be empowered to become more productive and self-reliant.
He said this during the high-level Roundtable discussions made up of African leaders including President Uhuru Kenyatta, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo – Iweala, the Special Envoy of the African Union on Covid-19 responsible for mobilising international economic support for Africa.
During the session titled ‘Resilient World: An African call for a new world order’, Elumelu stated “I see this pandemic as an opportunity to reset Africa.’ Whilst pointing out that Africa as a continent has all it takes to emerge into a strong digital economy, the UBA Group Chairman advocated a martial plan that will galvanise the entire continent and make Africa less dependent on the ‘circularity of debt’ from developed nations, which according to him, has been a major setback for decades.
He said, “I feel that as we engage the rest of the world in providing relief, we need to look for a more fundamental solution to Africa’s challenges. I have often argued for a martial plan overtime. We need to mobilise everyone. If we have a martial plan that mobilises resources to address particular issues, then we can mitigate against this constant begging for assistance.”
Speaking at the forum President Uhuru Kenyatta said “The Covid-19 pandemic presents the world with a new opportunity to recalibrate its relationship with Africa adding that the continent is so far managing the crisis better than that many people expected. Resource and information sharing among nation states is also critical in the successful management of the current health crisis”.
“It is quite clear to me and many of my colleagues on the African continent that our success in defeating this particular disease is going to be based both on our individual country response and more importantly on our collective response as a continent.
During the current containment period, Kenyan youths across the country have set up technology enabled start-ups that are assisting communities to continue accessing key supplies and services such as food and medicine.” added President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Reiterating these remarks, Elumelu pointedly said, “The truth is that we have resources to help mobilise people. As the founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, we committed to endow $100m to support young African entrepreneurs and we have been seeing the positive results this has yielded so far.
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It is evident that if we can fix access to electricity, ensure stability of the macro-economic environment, ensure prioritisation of the youth, empower our small and medium scale enterprises and fix youth migration, then we are in for a better and more resilient economy’. “There is the urgent need to prioritise our youths and empower our SMEs. The people who work hard need to be encouraged,” Elumelu noted passionately.
The roundtable which was organised by the New York Forum Institute, also had in attendance African Heads of States including President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger; President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya; President Alassane Ouattara of Cote d’Ivoire; President Macky Sall of Senegal and President Julius Bio of Sierra Leone.