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‘Africapitalism': Africa's New Way Forward?

Nigerian economist and philanthropist Tony Elumelu. Facebook.

Nigerian economist and philanthropist Tony Elumelu. Facebook.

The economic philosophy “Africapitalism” says the African private sector has the power to transform the continent through long-term investments in strategic sectors, creating both economic prosperity and social wealth.

Tony Elumelu, a Nigerian economist and philanthropist, coined the term five years ago. As a show of his dedication to the concept, Elumelu now says he's ready to invest $100 million in young African entrepreneurs. In a blog post on his website, he stated earlier this month:

The $100 million programme, announced at the Tony Elumelu Foundation headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria, on December 1, 2014, will identify and support 1,000 entrepreneurs from across the continent each year over the next decade. The 10,000 start-ups and young businesses selected from across Africa will ultimately create one million new jobs and add $10 billion in annual revenues to Africa’s economy.
 
The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme is open to citizens and legal residents of all 54 African countries. Applications can be made by any for-profit business based in Africa in existence for less than three years, including new business ideas.  The application portal is available in English, French and Portuguese and applications will be accepted in these three languages.

Generally speaking, Elumelu's programme has been received well online, where many are hopeful that Africapitalism will unlock Africans’ economic potential.

Joycee Awojoodu, a power sector specialist and curator of the World Economic Forum in Abuja, argued on Twitter that the private sector is key to Africapitalism:

 Amir Ben Yahmed, vice president of Groupe Jeune Afrique, suggested:

Meanwhile, Sankalp Forum, an initiative that puts entrepreneurs in dialogue with impact investors, corporations, and governments, identified certain barriers to Africapitalism:

 Valentine Rugwabiza, Rwanda's East African community minister, suggested some pressing measures:

The global financial firm KPMG South Africa tweeted:

  Cabmagnet.com.ng, Nigeria's number one cab-hailing platform, also showed its support:

A Cameroon-based financial analyst pledged to join the effort:

With 200 million people between the ages 15 and 24, Africa has the youngest population in the world. Unfortunately, youths account for 60 percent of all unemployed people in Africa, too, according to the World Bank. If Africapitalism is to become a reality, investing in young people is necessary, if monumental, step in the right direction. Tony Elumelu promises to walk that path for the next ten years.

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