In the words of the late South African President and anti-apartheid revolutionary, “A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.”
Today, one of the few men in Africa who typify this witty saying by the late Mandela, a great political leader, is the Chairman of United Bank For Africa, UBA, Tony Elumelu. For many years, he has been busy promoting unity through his Africapitalism, an economic philosophy that embodies the private sector’s commitment to the economic transformation of Africa through long-term investments that create both economic prosperity and social wealth. He sees Africans taking charge of the value-adding sectors and ensuring that those value-added processes happen in Africa.
Rising from his modest beginnings, he ascended to the pinnacle of banking in Nigeria and has significant investments in the energy, hospitality, agribusiness, healthcare and real estate sectors. His net worth is estimated to be in the region of 700 million US Dollars.
His Tony Elumelu Foundation reaches across Africa to stimulate Africa’s economic development by enhancing the competitiveness of the African private sector. Where many lack funding and access to education that enhances entrepreneurial pursuits, his Foundation provides both and indeed much more for an increasing number of Africans. He is respected across the world and when he talks and his voice influences millions to the extent that in 2012 Forbes ranked him among the top 20 most influential Africans.
The billionaire has addressed the sad, recurring and ongoing cases of xenophobia in South Africa by black South Africans targeting foreign nationals. In a heartfelt missive that has gone viral, he started by reiterating his belief that Africa is a beautiful and blessed continent, and that we Africans are our greatest resource.
According to banking wizard “Let’s not lose sight of our shared destiny. We need to stop attacking each other but rather embrace one another and work together to uplift our continent and be our brother’s and sister’s protectors wherever we may find ourselves. This is the only way to our economic liberation and prosperity.
“I am disheartened by the videos and stories floating around social media around these xenophobic attacks! They are despicable and pure madness! We must say no to barbarism and savagery. Violently mutilating and killing our brothers and raping our sisters; looting and destroying their livelihoods is evil and un-African and it dehumanizes us all. Instead, we must always seek to elevate, protect and help one another.”
He shared the story of how in his early days, even though banks were still heavily focused on metropolitan areas, his desire to give opportunities to everyone and access to financial services to people all over the country drove him to ensure that Standard Trust Bank expanded all over Nigeria. When he became CEO of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) in 2005, from being a one-country operation at the time, he was able to expand in Africa to 20 countries delivering excellence in financial services before he stepped down from the ubiquitous bank’s helm of affairs. With his sights set on Africa at that point, he founded the Tony Elumelu Foundation and today it empowers young African men and women in all 54 countries across the continent.