Elumelu Convenes Global Leaders, Calls for Immediate Climate Action for Africa at COP28

Elumelu Convenes Global Leaders, Calls for Immediate Climate Action for Africa at COP28

•TEF hosts US administration, WTO, UNDP, IFC, UNICEF, Rockefeller Foundation Leaders

•Champions equitable partnerships to catalyse new generation of green entrepreneurs

•Announces partnership to fund young African entrepreneurs in Green sector

Dike Onwuamaeze

At a series of events across COP28, the Chairman of the United Bank for Africa (UBA), Mr. Tony Elumelu delivered a single message to world leaders:  Africa needs to be heard, Africa’s future is the world’s future and the continent that is most impacted by and the least contributor to climate change, needs our attention.

According to the founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), with African youth set to make up one third of global population later this century, the future of Africa’s youth, entrepreneurial, ambitious, resilient, needed to be given the highest priority.

Elumelu, offered the infrastructure and experience of his own Foundation’s 10-year $100 million entrepreneurship programme to partners, to catalyse a further generation of African entrepreneurs; entrepreneurs who could address climate change and drive the broader wealth creation that Africa requires.

He stressed that reaching and funding young entrepreneurs in every African country, through his approach of sector agnostic seed funding, mentoring, and networking had delivered robust impact.

The annual COP UN Climate Change Conferences unites the world to assess progress in combatting climate change.

Elumelu is one of Africa’s leading advocates for an equitable agenda for climate action and through the Tony Elumelu Foundation has empowered thousands of green entrepreneurs, shaping a more sustainable future for Africa.

The Tony Elumelu Foundation, in partnership with the UBA, hosted a high-level session, bringing together Africans, and key players in the Gulf, Europe, and Americas, where UBA operates, underscoring the urgent need for innovative approaches to climate adaptation and mitigation, while fostering sustainable development, and bringing attention to Africa’s unique position.

Speakers included the Director General, World Trade Organisation, Dr. Okonjo Iweala; Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Africa, UNDP, Ahunna Eziakonwa; CEO, UNICEF Generation Unlimited, Kevin Frey; VP Africa, IFC, Sergio Pimenta; Head of the Women Entrepreneurs Financial Initiative, World Bank, Wendy Teleki; U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Climate, Adam Wang-Levine; Vice President, Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet, Rockefeller Foundation, Joseph Nganga; VP International Relations, Dubai Chambers, Hassan Al Hashemi; Chairman, West African Development Bank (BOAD), Serge Ekué; Deputy Group Managing Director, United Bank for Africa, Muyiwa Akinyemi, and Swedish Climate Ambassador and Head of Delegation, UNFCCC, Mattias Frumerie.

“Addressing climate change is the paramount challenge of our era.  The urgency is unmistakable.”  Elumelu stated.

“It is critical that Africa, as a continent, and African voices, play a key role in global climate conversations, as meaningful participants, and no longer as bystanders.

“Africa is least responsible and is disproportionately impacted by climate change.  I am investing in a generation of green entrepreneurs, and we are extending the hand of partnership, so that others can benefit and use the infrastructure and platform we have created to reach entrepreneurs across Africa,” he added.

Elumelu had represented the African private sector at the 2023 New Global Financing Pact in Paris at the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron, and the Climate Finance Mobilisation Forum in London, at the invitation of King Charles III of the United Kingdom and U.S. President Biden.  At the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA78) in New York, the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) launched a first-of-its-kind Green Entrepreneurship Programme, the #BeGreenAfrica Initiative, in partnership with the IKEA Foundation, Dutch Government and UNICEF GenU, to support green entrepreneurship and youth development.

Tony Elumelu Entrepreneur from Madagascar in the green economy, Marie-Christiana Kola, shared a compelling impact story.

“As a beneficiary of the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship programme, I was able to create a recycled and 100 per cent biodegradable hand soap made with waste cooked oil – the number one water polluter of water in African urban cities.

“These soaps do not only protect the environment, but they are also solidarity soaps.  I was also able to attend the COP27 conference in Egypt, where I won the Innovation Prize.  Today, I have employed over 30 people because of the Tony Elumelu Foundation.”

Speaking at the TEF #COP28 high-level event, Okonjo-Iweala said, “I am proud of what my brother, Tony Elumelu, has done in empowering and inspiring so many young entrepreneurs.

“We have no choice; the future is green.  The future of growth is two things – it is green, and it must be inclusive. I am very interested in partnerships with organisations like TEF.”

Also, Eziakonwa said: “The reason why UNDP associated itself with the TEF years ago is because of the leadership and courage of the Foundation to trust and invest in young Africans.  It was one of the first organisation to do so at that scale.”

The Foundation partnered with the UNDP to empower thousands in the Sahel, with an ambitious project to impact the lives one million young Africans.

Pimenta stated, “Tony, I salute you and your Foundation for what you have been doing to support young entrepreneurs in Africa. The IFC has deployed $2 billion in funding for African SMEs in the last fiscal year and we are very excited to be able to do more, working with you.”

Similarly, Kevin Frey noted that, “With TEF, we have moved in a concerted way into the entrepreneurial space.

“Generation Unlimited now have a flagship programme with the Tony Elumelu Foundation called #BeGreenAfrica, launched in Kenya, and now with the support of the IKEA Foundation and the Dutch Government, we have scaled to Nigeria, Morocco, South Africa, and Senegal.

“We will train and seed 500 green entrepreneurs this year in the pilot project across those countries.  So Tony, thank you so much, you are right it is all about partnerships.”

Wendy Teleki announced, “Our women-focused initiative has been able to secure $3.6 billion to finance women entrepreneurs in 67 countries across the world, and is set to launch a new programme focused on financing African women entrepreneurs to drive the continent’s green energy transition, and we are keen to work with the Tony Elumelu Foundation.”

Frumerie also stated, “My Government and I commend the Tony Elumelu Foundation’s incredible impact across Africa, and will facilitate connections between the Tony Elumelu Foundation, and the Swedish embassies across Africa to drive innovation, digitalisation, and green-energy transition, which promises to bring about new jobs and growth.”

In the same vein, Adam Wang-Levine added: “Before coming to the United States Treasury, I was working in venture capital, and I know first-hand that it is incredibly important what the Tony Elumelu Foundation is doing.

“I have seen two pillars of their work – financing and the mentorship – just as I have seen with Silicon Valley, which helps to drive innovation and jobs creation. We are excited to begin partnership conversations.”

Also, Akinyemi, “For us, UBA, we give market access into 20 geographies in Africa.  Everything that we do is around Africa, and that is why we have partnered with the Afreximbank to launch the $6 billion fund for SMEs with a focus on import substitution, working in four key areas including climate emission reduction.”

Earlier in the day, Elumelu joined President of World Bank Group, Ajay Banga; Chair of the Board and CEO of Bank of America, Brian Moynihan; President, Alphabet and Google, Ms. Ruth Porat, and Founder & President of Emerson Collective, Ms. Laurene Powell Jobs, as a panelist in a session titled, “Big, Audacious and Green: A Convergence of Visionaries,” moderated by President of World Economic Forum, Børge Brende.

Last Sunday, Elumelu also participated in a fireside conversation with Vice President of the Government of Spain and Minister for Ecological Transition and Demographic Change, Ms. Teresa Ribera, moderated by Sec. Hillary Rodham Clinton, and with closing remarks from Director-General, World Health Organisation, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The TEF is a leading philanthropy empowering a new generation of African entrepreneurs, driving poverty eradication, catalysing job creation in all 54 African countries, and ensuring inclusive economic empowerment.

Since the launch of the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme in 2015, the Foundation has connected over 1.5 million young Africans on its digital hub, TEFConnect, and disbursed nearly $100 million in direct funding to 18,000 African women and men, who have collectively created over 400,000 direct and indirect jobs.

The Foundation’s mission is rooted in Africapitalism, which positions the private sector, and most importantly entrepreneurs, as the catalyst for the social and economic development of the African continent.

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