By Nkiruka Nnorom
THE Chairman of Heirs Holdings, Tony Elumelu, has condemned the pervasive stereotypes on Africa in the media, saying that the consequent negative narrative has posed greatest challenge in attracting foreign investment to the continent. Elumelu, who spoke at a gathering of senior policy makers and development experts hosted by UK’s leading foreign policy institute – Chattam House, called for an urgent “reset of mindset” in order to attract global capital to drive job creation and reduce poverty on the continent.
He stated: “I believe that the greatest challenge Africa has as a continent when it comes to attracting investment is in the way it is portrayed. Information presented about Africa is neither holistic nor properly contextualized, and has led to the kind of narrative that we have had for so long on Africa. As an investor, when all you have heard about Africa is corruption, how would you pass a positive investment decision to go and invest in the continent? The result is that the vicious cycle of neglect continues and is even reinforced.
“We must reset the way we see and discuss Africa. People do business with people they are comfortable with. Investors who repeatedly hear horrible things about our people and the continent will never invest here. We will continue to host national gatherings and seminars to discuss unemployment, poverty and income inequality if we do not fix the existing information asymmetry, the poor quality of information that is put out.”
Elumelu, who has committed $100 million to African entrepreneurs, also emphasized the critical importance of mentoring and funding for the survival of small businesses.
Elumelu urged public and private sector stakeholders to increase support to African Small and Medium Enterprises, SMEs, describing them as “the lifeblood of our economy”.