Chairman of investment firm, Heirs Holdings, Tony Elumelu, on Monday praised President Barack Obama for his vision, saying the US president has showed that the “rules of engagement with Africa were genuinely changing.”
Last week, Obama visited Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania and made some ground-breaking announcements.
“Last week was the first time, in my memory, that a U.S. president came to Africa with investment at the top of his agenda and prioritised meeting with the continent’s business leaders, who are the true drivers of development,” Elumelu wrote in an op-ed article.
“The age of aid is ending. The type of aid that will help Africa most, and should receive the highest priority, is aid for business. I believe that the African private sector has the power to transform the continent through long-term capital investments, creating both economic prosperity and social wealth.”
Elumelu refers to this development as “Africapitalism.” He said it was great for him to witness African business leaders inter-acting among themselves around the table, funding and investing as associates.
“I can already feel the impact of Obama’s new dialogue with Africa. In interviews I had with international media covering his trip, aid and corruption were not the focus, thankfully. Journalists addressed topics like “capital,” “investment,” and “trade.”
During his visit to South Africa last week, Obama unveiled a $7 billion new US-led plan to increase access to electricity in Africa.
The US president swore to assist Africa in bringing “light where there is currently darkness.” He made the remark after visiting Robben Island, where Mandela, who is currently in hospital, spent almost two decades of his 27-year stay in jail.
Electricity generation in Africa is acutely inadequate and unreliable. According to Eco Power Africa, Nigeria for example, a vast nation of 150 million people, has a generating capacity of 4,000 MW.
Obama’s electricity plan, known as “Power Africa,” represents the kind of cross-Africa projects Obama is bent on achieving.
The US will invest $7 billion in the power plan, which will pay more attention to advancing more access to power in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria and Tanzania.It is understood that big firms including General Electric and Symbion Power will put in an additional $9 billion.
“The impact of this shift will be immense,” Elumelu said, adding that shortage of power is Africa’s single most terrible obstruction to the continent’s economic growth.
“As such, it is the most catalytic and strategic investment anyone can make in Africa.”