Is Philanthropy the answer in Africa?
On President Barack Obama’s recent visit to the continent, he announced a new $7bn (£4.61bn) 'Power Africa' initiative in Tanzania. Nigerian philanthropist Tony Elumelu attended the launch and pledged $2.5bn (£1.65bn) towards an estimated $9bn (£5.93bn) private-sector fund to boost the project.
Elumelu’s Foundation has also recently formed a partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation to launch the Impact Economy Investment Fund. It will fund seven or eight projects over a 12-month period to create jobs and social impact.
According to an article on Africa.Com’s website, Elumelu sees this as part of the philosophy of 'Africapitalism' – a prescription for private-sector investment in Africa's future. Africans with the means to do so, he says, should commit to "long-term investment in key sectors that will create economic prosperity while addressing society's needs, producing both profits and social worth".
The article says it is a model he pioneered as a 34-year-old, investing $5m (£3.29m) to purchase a small Nigerian bank that became UBA - United Bank for Africa – a financial services group employing 25,000 people in 19 African countries, the UK, France and the United States.
He welcomes aid intervention and philanthropists such as Bill and Melinda Gates. However, he says, in the article: “At the same time, we need private-sector solutions to development issues. Personally, I believe that the best form of charity for Africa is aid for business. We need to fight, preach and believe that aid intervention should help businesses to do well. The private sector holds the key to sustainable development.”
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