Tony Elumelu, chairman of the United Bank for Africa, has asked investors to invest in critical sectors of Africa, saying the era of “making policies for the continent from outside is gone”.
Elumelu, who is also the chairman of Transcorp Power Limited, spoke at the ongoing Vivatech conference in Paris.
He said investors must look beyond the challenges of Africa, focus on the economic potential and prosperity of the continent, and invest.
Speaking on the economic potential of Africa, Elumelu said the continent is a major region where there is evidence of investment.
“If you look at Africa from the point of view of investment, there is nowhere you make the kind of returns on investment that you make in Africa. I speak as someone who invests in Africa.
“In 2013, our group invested in the power sector. We invested in power generation. I don’t know anywhere in the world where you invest in power generation because it is highly capital intensive, and you break even and start making profit from year two to year three. It is only in Africa that this can happen.
“We do have a lot of opportunities and we also have challenges. But the challenges are not daunting. They are not the kind of things that will not want to make you invest in Africa.
“It’s about risk and returns. People should know that in Africa, we have challenges but we have more opportunities, more prosperity, and more progress than the challenges that we have on the continent. So, Africa is open for investment.”
On how investors can strategically leverage opportunities on the continent, Elumelu said “those who want to support Africa to develop in this 21st century, should rethink how to intervene in Africa”.
“Gone are the days of sitting outside of Africa and formulating policies and programmes that you think would be good for Africa,” he added.
“If you want to actually create people who become the future, self-reliant, self-independent, then we need to invest long-term in Africa, invest in key strategic sectors of the African economy that will help to drive sustainable development and to ensure it is not to gain profit for self but for everyone.”
Elumelu also called for investments that would drive economic development, growth, and alleviate poverty, create jobs and empower women.
He noted that the government must play its role in helping to drive development and ensuring private investors succeed in economic development efforts.