He also says the time to criticize the U.S. for not engaging the continent sooner has passed.
“We should welcome the fact that the journey has finally begun. I like the nature of the imagined engagement between Africa and America. President Obama’s visit to Africa last year was the starting point,” Elumelu says. “The fact that they have realized the need to engage with Africa at the scale and magnitude that they are going about it now is welcome.”
His foundation is also playing its part in reaching out to minority and women-owned businesses. “The Tony Elumelu Foundation will launch an entrepreneurship program with 100 million dollars that will touch 10,000 entrepreneurs across Africa and the United States,” he says. “We will train and mentor them and create platforms for them to have commercial business engagements.”
To expatiate, Elumelu notes how much preparation, time, and money it took to host an event of such scale and magnitude in the capital city of the United States. “It’s almost like everything stopped momentarily or temporarily for this event,” he says. “It has a signalling impact. It says to all policy makers in America, and those not on the leadership level that Africa is important to this country. Even the U.S. Secretary of State was in attendance considering the situation in the middle east reaching a boiling point.”
Elumelu and Obama share a singular belief: If access to electricity is provided to Sub-Saharan Africa, it would accelerate development across the region. It is a belief that has propelled him to make several speeches on the matter including addressing the United Nations and the United States Congress.
Addressing the audience and U.S. House Representatives at an event at the summit hosted by Congressman Gregory Meeks titled, “A Dialogue With African CEOs” that brought together women and minority business owners, CEOs from across Africa and U.S., and SME entrepreneurs, Elumelu said he understood that members of Congress had genuine differences, but he urged them to consider a more dire big picture.