The Chairman of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, Mr. Tony Elumelu, was at the weekend honoured with the Lifetime Achievement award at the fifth edition of the annual Economic Forum of the Ivorian National Council of Employers held in Abidjan, the Ivorian capital.
Also honoured with the award was Chris Kirubi.
During the formal presentation to honour Elumelu and Kirubi on the leadership and key role they play as African business champions, the Prime Minister of Cote d’Ivoire congratulated both African business leaders and further stressed that his country had a lot of potential to support the development of entrepreneurship and growth of the private sector.
He enjoined young Ivorian entrepreneurs to come forward with their ideas and share them with business champions like Elumelu and Kirubi who have the money to help.
“Elumelu, You are the Pride of Africa,” Prime Minister Duncan said.
As he addressed the guests present at the event, Elumelu advocated the collaboration of the private and public sectors to create value in the global competitive business landscape.
He stressed that Africa must encourage champions for economic development. “Development is not an option’ he stated.
“No one can develop the African continent but us. We must always remember that no one can rescue us. When the private sector operators divorce themselves from the development agenda of the countries in which they operate, everyone suffers.
“The SMEs are the backbone of any economy anywhere in the world and when governments ignore the private sector, the consequences are stark,” continued Elumelu.
On his part, Kirubi motivated the young entrepreneurs present saying: “Africa is a come back kid. The future of Africa is in the hands of the young people.’ Of Business influencers who can move the continent towards development he said “we have to open the markets in each others countries. We cannot be swimming in small swimming pools and call ourselves champions.”
Elumelu tasked entrepreneurs to seek opportunities to accelerate their business success(including through The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme, TEEP).
“We are champions of African development because we are Africapitalists. Through Africapitalism, I seek to evangelise what works for successful business investments and inspire other entrepreneurs like yourselves. TEEP, Elumelu’s 10-year, $100 million commitment, to identify and empower 10,000 African entrepreneurs, creates one million jobs and add $10 billion in revenues to Africa’s economy.”
Since its initiation in 2012 by the Ivorian National Council of Employers, the annual economic forum, CGECI Academy, has provided a platform to raise awareness among African entrepreneurs about existing sources of capital and investors available to help grow and develop their businesses.
The forum seeks to change the paradigm of access to finance in Côte d’Ivoire, creating a platform for sharing experiences and expertise.
Furthermore, it aims to present the Ivorian private sector to regional and international partners and highlight the achievements and the opportunities within it.
Other activities during the event include the announcement of the yearly business plan competition and a segment dedicated to sharing the experiences and testimonials of entrepreneurs.
The ceremony was attended by over three thousand delegates from across Africa including the Prime Minister of Cote D’Ivoire, Daniel Kablan Duncan and the Deputy Prime Minister of Mauritius, Sir Anerod Juganauth, among other business leaders and government officials.