The Chairman of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, Tony Elumelu, has stated that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic currently ravaging the world presents an opportunity to reset the African continent’s economy with the people empowered to become more productive and self-reliant.
He said this at the high-level roundtable discussions made up of African leaders including Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the special envoy of the African Union on Covid-19 and Tidjane Thiam who is also a Covid-19 special envoy 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.
He advocated a martial plan that will galvanise the entire continent and make Africa less dependent on what he calls 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 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.” Explaining further, Elumelu stated: “The truth is that we have resources to help mobilise people. As the founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, we committed to endow $100 million to support young African entrepreneurs and we have been seeing the positive results this has yielded so far.
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.” Okonjo-Iweala, on her part, called for a system where youths and women will be empowered to create and produce more to boost the African economy.
Whilst calling on private and government parastatals to engage in meaningful partnerships that will help to galvanise job creation and entrepreneurship among youths in Africa, she said, “As Tony pointed out, we can see this pandemic as an opportunity for the continent. We have the African Free Trade Agreement, and we have to make it real.”