TEF Forum 2019: AfDB, Osinbajo, presidents endorse African Entrepreneurs’ Bank

As the 5th Tony Elumelu Foundation Forum (TEFforum) rounded off on Saturday, Presidents of some African countries including Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and some Nigerian state governors agreed on the need to set up a continental entrepreneurship and finance bank.

The first salvo was shot by President, African Development Bank (AfDB) Dr. Akinwumi Adesina who said “it is time for African leaders, African governments to begin to shift from youth empowerment to youth investment.

“In trying to do that, we have to correct three fundamental failures: the missing institutions, the market failures and government failure.

“To do that, I propose that its time that we begging to set up youth entrepreneurship and investment banks.

“What does this mean? That means that we have to de-risk lending to businesses of young people. Chief Executive Officer of Tony Elumelu Foundation was talking of $5 billion.

“What is $5 billion? $5 billion will create a million entrepreneurs and 20 million jobs. It is time that African Presidents create banks that are youths’ entrepreneur-friendly and investment banks for Africa.

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“When we do that, finally, Africa would fly and fly high because the youth that I see in front of me from various countries are not just the future of Africa, they are the present and we have to start investing in them from today.”

Agreeing with Adesina, Osinbajo said “the promise must be kept.”

According to him, “our continent continues to be defined by unsavoury and unwholesome stories, which do not often accurately represent the reality of life and opportunity.

“The people in this room are the perfect and long-awaited counterpoints to those one-dimensional narratives of Africa that have sadly gained ground over the years.

“Outside on the streets of every village, town and city are many more individual embodiments of the potential of Africa. But we can change that story; we must fund young entrepreneurs and provide opportunities for capacity building.

“Our school curriculum must emphasise not just STEM (science, technology and mathematics) but critical thinking and entrepreneurship, and the promise of entrepreneurship banks must be kept.”

The event also featured a question and answer session moderated by Fareed Rafiq Zakaria, host of CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, where Osinbajo, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Macky Sall of Gambia, Felix Tshisekedi of DR Congo and Prime Minister Rugunda of Uganda, Adesina fielded questions from the audience.

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