African Presidents and global leaders discuss job creation at 2019 TEF forum

Thursday, August 01, 2019

Job creation and youth empowerment were the key themes discussed by five African presidents and thousands of young African entrepreneurs at the recently concluded 5th edition of the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) Entrepreneurship Forum in Abuja, Nigeria.

The Tony Elumelu Foundation, which has been at the forefront of advocating for entrepreneurship as the catalyst for the economic transformation of Africa, convened the 2-day forum from 26th to 27th July at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja. The event convened over 5,000 participants from 54 African countries, including representatives of the 7,521 beneficiaries of the Foundation’s entrepreneurship programme.

More than 60 global speakers from public and private sectors across 3 continents participated in interactive masterclasses, plenary sessions and debates geared towards generating ideas and defining concrete steps Africa must take to empower its youth and accelerate the continent’s development.

Moderated by American journalist and host of CNN’s show, Fareed Zakaria GPS, the presidential debates, which formed the highlight of the two-day event, focused on charting the way towards the eradication of poverty in Africa through job creation.  The public sector leaders on the panel include Presidents Paul Kagame of Rwanda; Macky Sall of Senegal; Félix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo; Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), Vice President of Nigeria and Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, Prime Minister of Uganda.

Healthcare played a dominant role in the conversations as healthcare leaders in the public and private sectors tackled the theme on the plenary session: The role of healthcare in economic transformation.

Tony O. Elumelu, (CON), TEF founder reiterated the urgency in creating jobs on the continent to catalyse Africa’s development. “Extremism is a product of poverty and joblessness. Poverty anywhere is a threat to everyone everywhere,” he said, and added, “If our leaders understand the reason and rationale for our youths to succeed, they will do everything they can to support them.”

Mr. Elumelu also reiterated the role of technology as a key enabler in accelerating development, citing TEFConnect; the digital networking platform for African entrepreneurs launched by the Foundation in 2018. With over 500,000 registered users, the hub provides a platform for entrepreneurs to network and forge business partnerships regardless of their location.

Giving the keynote speech, Nigeria’s Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo commented on the impact of the Foundation, saying coming with the intervention, Tony Elumelu has compelled them to focus on the young people and their dreams. “The message to Africa’s emerging business giants is a clear one: How and what can you contribute, like Tony Elumelu, to empower the next generation and helping them to realize their own dreams?”

The forum ended with a tour of the UBA marketplace, where entrepreneurs across the continent exhibited their products, as the pitching competition saw the winner walks away with a $5,000 grant from the United Bank for Africa (UBA).

Author: Alieu Ceesay