Tony Elumelu : Leveraging Resources of Africa for Africa’s Development

Tony O. Elumelu

January 19, 2019//-TONY O. Elumelu, CON, the Africapitalist, is the Vanguard Personality of the Year 2018.

He has championed the African emergent entrepreneurship and private sector-led economic development for the continent of Africa.

This has given hope to intra-African trade and economic integration which had been lacking before now and which had been the bane of the region’s economy and the clog in its wheel of progress.

Elumelu has built and is still building more institutions that are driving these developments from Nigerian headquarters. The institutions cut across financial sector, healthcare and the real sector as well as infrastructure development.

He has also instituted human capital and entrepreneurship development platforms for the continent, pointing the way to go for Africa that would survive globalism.

At Vanguard Newspapers, we see the emergence of a modern corporate Africa, led by Elumelu and a few other continental business leaders to redefine and give vent to the ideals espoused by pan-Africanist movements of the mid-20th Century.

They are set to actualise the aspirations and visions of the continent’s early leaders sooner than could have been possible with the present political structures and leadership across the 54-nation continent.

The nature of the emergent corporate Africa is already ventilated in the principles of Africapitalism, created by Elumelu.


The future we all want for ourselves is one of our own making – Tony O. Elumelu, CON. Africapitalism is the economic philosophy of Tony Elumelu predicated on the belief that Africa’s private sector can and must play a leading role in the continent’s development.

The foundational principles include: Entrepreneurship: Unlock the power of individuals to create and grow their business ideas into successful companies;

Long-term Investments: Deploy patient capital that creates greater and broader economic value as opposed to merely the extraction of resources, which Africa has been known for and which has kept it impoverished amidst abundance.

Strategic Sectors: Invest in sectors delivering a financial return as well as broader economic and social value – agriculture, power, healthcare, and finance.

Development Dividend: Conduct investments and business activity in a manner that delivers financial returns to shareholders as well as economic and social benefit to stakeholders.

Value-Added Growth: Leverage locally available human and financial capital, raw material and other inputs that create longer, more integrated and higher value regional supply chains.

Regional Connectivity: Facilitate intra-regional commerce and trade through the development of national and cross-border physical infrastructure, and the harmonisation of policies and practices,

Multi-Generational Development: Focus on investments and economic growth strategies that build value for future generations.

Shared Purpose: Foster collaboration between businesses, investors, governments, academia, civil society, philanthropists and development institutions to create conditions that will empower the African private sector to thrive.

Africapitalism is a call-to-action for businesses to make decisions that will increase economic and social wealth, and promote development in the communities and nations in which they operate.

Such a decision will ultimately help businesses become more profitable as the communities they serve become well-off consumers, healthy and better educated employees, and even entrepreneurs who go on to become suppliers and service providers.

Elumelu says: “Africapitalism means we cannot leave the business of development up to our governments, donor countries and philanthropic organisations alone.

The private sector must be involved in the business of development.”

We dare say there is no better way to actualise African Union (AU), than the Elumelu example and there is no structure more effective than the Elumelu corporate structure.

The Elumelu structure: Tony Elumelu had honed his business and entrepreneurial skills in Nigeria over the past three decades rising through the ranks in corporate Nigeria before ascending the global stage to now building Afro-centric entrepreneurial platforms.

The corporate Africa landscape is now dotted with the United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA) and the Heirs Holding brands.

They are now complemented in the Africapitalism with The Tony Elumelu Foundation, TEF. These are the Elumelu Africa network with global reach in world’s leading economic centers such as New York, Paris and London, and many others.

United Bank for Africa, UBA: Tony Elumelu is the Chairman of United Bank for Africa Plc, UBA, which is a leading pan-African financial services group, with presence in 20 African countries, as well as the United Kingdom, the United States of America and France.

UBA was incorporated in Nigeria as a limited liability company after taking over the assets of the British and French Bank Limited who had been operating in Nigeria since 1949.

Diverse service channels

 The United Bank for Africa merged with Standard Trust Bank in 2005 and from a single country operation, UBA has become one of the leading providers of banking and other financial services on the African continent.

The bank provides services to over 15 million customers globally, through one of the most diverse service channels in sub-Saharan Africa, with over 1,000 branches and customer touch points and robust online and mobile banking platforms.

The assets is in excess of $19billion.

Heirs Holdings, HH: Tony Elumelu is the Chairman of Heirs Holdings, HH, an African investment company committed to the economic transformation of Africa through investments that generate both economic prosperity and social wealth.

The goal is to catalyse the economic growth of Africa while generating exceptional value for the shareholders and partners.

HH invests proprietary capital for the long-term in the most promising sectors of the continent: financial services, health care, infrastructure, real estate and hospitality, agriculture, oil and gas.

Its operations are rooted in the economic philosophy of Africapitalism which proposes private sector-led long-term investment in Africa by Africans.

Transcorp Plc: Transcorp is a diversified strategic investor with core interests in three sectors: agribusiness, hospitality, real estate/facilities management, and energy.

Transcorp is committed to being actively engaged in these sectors of the national economy to stimulate growth and build a viable business enterprise that will be the pride of its shareholders.

Transcorp serves as the vehicle that will mobilise capital on a large scale while investing locally on major projects.

The vision is: “To be the most dominant conglomerate in Africa over the next five to seven years”. Transcorp shares are traded on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

The Tony Elumelu Foundation, TEF: Tony Elumelu is the Founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation, TEF, an Africa-based and funded not-for-profit institution, dedicated to the promotion and celebration of excellence in business leadership and entrepreneurship across Africa.

As a 21st Century catalytic philanthropy, the Foundation is committed to driving the continent’s economic growth from within by proving the African private sector can itself be the primary generator of economic development.

The Foundation identifies and addresses systemic challenges that inhibit African entrepreneurs. TEF is also a pioneer in the adoption of impact investing as a means of catalysing economic change.

Unlike most philanthropies, the Foundation sees grants as only one of a set of effective philanthropic tools and believes that for the start-up and small and growing business segments, impact investing can be a more sustainable means of capitalisation because of the entrepreneurial rigour that comes with requiring a financial return.

The Foundation, established in 2010, has received thousands of applications for business proposals across 54 countries in Africa.

About 2,000 entrepreneurs have gone through the seven pillars of the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme. They have all benefitted directly, and those who were not selected continue to benefit indirectly from the wide range of resources that the Foundation places across its online platforms.

Elumelu stated: “My message is clear to the other high net worth individuals in Africa. The measure of your success is not based on how much you have in your account but how much you are investing in developing Africa.

We at the Tony Elumelu Foundation have created a programme which is long-term, sustainable, scalable and replicable. “We invite other high net worth individuals in Africa to join forces with us as we have the format; they can join forces with us to scale this programme or they can adapt our programme and implement it themselves.

To develop the format, we have invested millions of dollars in the meet ups, the forums, the technology platforms and building local networks across the 54 African countries.

This needs ongoing support. “Our selected entrepreneurs will require ongoing investments. We are saying look through these businesses, amongst which I can assure that you’ll find investable businesses you can identify with.

When it comes to investments, entrepreneurs do not only need money, they need networks, mentoring and for corporations and government to buy their services. They are not looking for handouts but hand ups!”

By Emeka Anaeto, Business Editor,

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