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:
At the heart of #africapitalism are two things 1. Realizing that private sector is key 2. We cannot leave … http://t.co/juEzDob4f2
— Joycee (@MsCEO101) January 7, 2015
Amir Ben Yahmed, vice president of Groupe Jeune Afrique, suggested:
Africa we will be economically on the right track the day presidents will have more CEOS than minister in their delegation #Africapitalism — Amir Ben Yahmed (@AmirBenYahmed) January 7, 2015
Meanwhile, Sankalp Forum, an initiative that puts entrepreneurs in dialogue with impact investors, corporations, and governments, identified certain barriers to Africapitalism:
@GuardianGDP #Africapitalism has many barriers: insecurity, connectivity, infrastructure – but those are also opportunities #globaldevlive — Sankalp Forum (@SankalpForum) June 19, 2014
Valentine Rugwabiza, Rwanda's East African community minister, suggested some pressing measures:
“Removing investment barriers is paramount to promoting Africapitalism” #Africapitalism #ACF2014 #RDB #Rwanda #africa — Valentine Rugwabiza (@VRugwabiza) March 18, 2014
The global financial firm KPMG South Africa tweeted:
The concept of #Africapitalism has caught the imagination of African commentators and policy analysts http://t.co/5bW6p0qIhU — KPMG South Africa (@KPMG_SA) August 24, 2014
Cabmagnet.com.ng, Nigeria's number one cab-hailing platform, also showed its support:
Making every youth in Africa aware of #Africapitalism solves a whole lot of problem. #PostUsAfrica — cabmagnet.com.ng (@ChigozieOkwara) August 20, 2014
A Cameroon-based financial analyst pledged to join the effort:
“@MsCEO101 In 2015 I pledge & plan to be an entrepreneur that empowers others & works to develop this nation” and continent #Africapitalism” — eddie (@efultang) January 7, 2015
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.