African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Heads of State have been urged by the United Bank of Africa (UBA),to improve the business environment in their countries in order to drive industrialization and wealth creation in the member states.
According to Tony O. Elumelu, the Chairman of UBA and the Tony Elumelu Foundation, industrialization will not be achieved without support for small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) and improved access to electricity
“We cannot hope to industrialize if we do not fix the issue of power. If our entrepreneurs are spending so much of their resources to power their businesses, how are they expected to make the investments necessary to upgrade and industrialize? If we do not tackle these pertinent issues, we will be unable to achieve industrialization, wealth creation and poverty reduction,” Mr.
Elumelu said while presenting the keynote speech on the theme at the Presidential Dialogue of the 9th ACP Business Summit in Nairobi, Kenya.
Mr. Elumelu similarly highlighted infrastructural development as another critical area needed to achieve sustainable development, highlighting the key role the United Bank for Africa Group plays in achieving this.
“UBA is a force for development in Africa through infrastructure investment and is leading the way in cross border payments and services, with the objective of encouraging trade across the continent,” the UBA boss said.
Whilst citing the impact of the flagship Entrepreneurship Programme of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, Elumelu highlighted the critical role partnerships between the private and public sectors, as well developmental organisations, play in achieving industrialisation. The Tony Elumelu Foundation, a private-sector-led philanthropy, is on a mission to catalyse the economic transformation of the continent by empowering young African entrepreneurs – over 7,500 beneficiaries across 54 African countries thus far – through its Entrepreneurship Programme.
“To date, we have 497 beneficiaries in Kenya, 596 in Uganda, 187 in Tanzania and 194 in Rwanda. This brings the total number of TEF Entrepreneurs in East Africa so far to 1,474, so far. Organisations such as the UNDP, African Development Bank, the ICRC, and GIZ have helped increase the number of young entrepreneurs we can support,” Mr. Elumelu commented.
The UBA chairman consequently stressed the importance of including women in the development agenda of the ACP region, commending the European Investment Bank (EIB), for its initiative “She Invest”, which is focused on mobilizing 1 billion Euros for women across Africa.