The Chairman of Heirs Holding and founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), Tony Elumelu, on Thursday enjoined leaders from across the world to train and invest in young Africans to engender economic growth.
Mr Elumelu spoke Thursday at the Tech for Good Summit 2019, which held in France.
The entrepreneur joined global leaders at the invitation of President of France, Emmanuel Macron, to discuss the use of technology and entrepreneurship in making the world a better place.
The philanthropist said leaders across the globe must not forget that Africa is just starting out and it cannot afford to lag behind.
“We need the world to pay attention to Africa so that young Africans are not disenfranchised and left behind in this new technology era,” he said.
“We need the world to pay attention to the plight of young Africans so that issues of migration can be addressed in a more fundamental way by tackling the root cause which is a lack of economic hope. We must address these issues holistically to fight poverty which as we all know is a threat to everyone everywhere.”
He explained that from efficient payment systems, to access to data that fosters connection and collaboration, “technology is the new reality and it offers a world of opportunity and promise.”
He said, “But Africa cannot be left behind. Africa needs this type of gathering – we are a continent with over 60 per cent of its people under the age of 30 – they need economic opportunities, they need hope. They need Tech for Good and just as important, Tech for All. I represented the African continent to draw attention to our young ones who seek economic hope and opportunity via technology.”
Mr Elumelu reiterated to world leaders that even as they gathered in the next G7 and G20 summits, they should prioritise tech for all on the African continent.
“At the Tony Elumelu Foundation we have led in committing to Tech for All,” he said. “Our digital hub for African entrepreneurs, TEFConnect, demonstrates the possibilities that can be unlocked on our continent when we leverage technology in business, investment, and social good. Our platform is a demonstration of what can be achieved when the digital revolution is democratised – personal empowerment, business growth, equitable bilateral relationships, and a more gender balanced and inclusive society.”
The entrepreneurship advocate also said that he joined other select global leaders to co-sign a diversity pact aimed at increasing participation of women in leadership and technology by 2022.
The pact, he said, will leverage technology to bridge the gender divide in today’s fast-evolving workspace, drive a more inclusive work environment and accelerate innovations that will further simplify our lives and make us more efficient.
The initiative is important because Africa needs to act. According to a report by the Africa CEO Forum, he explained, only five per cent of CEOs of major groups in Africa are women.
“These numbers are staggeringly low – but we are pacemakers and role models,” he said. “In our group, we walk the talk – in UBA, we are currently leading in diversity across the 20 African countries we operate in, as well as in the UK, USA, and France.
“31 per cent of senior/executive management positions group-wide are held by women, with nearly 30 per cent female representation on the boards within the UBA Group – we have female regional CEOs, and some critical functions are female-led – because we appoint on merit – and merit alone.”
Mr Elumelu was joined at the forum by world leaders including Theresa May of United Kingdom, Justin Trudeau of Canada, Leo Varadkar of Ireland, as well as entrepreneurs and business owners like Jack Ma, John Kerry, among others.