Tony Onyemaechi Elumelu (born 22 March 1963 in Jos, Nigeria) is an economist by training, a visionary entrepreneur and a philanthropist. Tony is the Chairman of Heirs Holdings, the United Bank for Africa, Transcorp and founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation. According to wikipedia, Elumelu holds the Nigerian national honours, the Commander of the Order of Nigeria (CON) and Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR). In 2011, New African magazine listed him as one of the 100 most influential people in Africa and a year later, he was recognized as one of “Africa’s 20 Most Powerful People in 2012” byForbes Magazine.
“In accepting this award, I want to dedicate it to Transcorp Power staff who remain committed to realizing our dream of improving access to electricity in Nigeria and making our vision of a well-lit, fully powered Nigeria come true. I also dedicate this to all stakeholders working hard to improve access to power in Africa. I call on others to please join us in this journey to powering Africa out of poverty. Africa has been faced with this same challenge, in my view, for far too long. I choose to look at the recent episodes of economic contraction across the continent as opportunities to diversify our economies and invest in building critical infrastructure, especially in power, to reduce our susceptibility to commodity shocks and break out of the perpetual boom-bust cycles. Industrialization must occur on a massive scale for our countries to be powered out of chronic dependency on commodities. We must power Africa’s next phase of development, by targeting and prioritizing growth of our manufacturing, industries and services. And power is the fulcrum that will make this happen. While there is huge private capital – local and global – seeking investment destinations, as we know, global private capital goes to where it is most welcome. Therefore, the challenge before African governments should be how to ensure they create the environment that will attract and retain these investments in our continent. Though there are challenges in investing in Africa, these challenges can be overcome by investing in Africa through partnerships with qualified local partners who possess the right knowledge, requisite capital and technical know how. It is critical for the public and private sectors to work together in “SHARED PURPOSE”, which is a key tenet of Africapitalism – the economic philosophy I espouse which calls for the private sector to play a key role in Africa’s social and economic development by investing in strategic sectors for both economic profit and social prosperity. In the 21st century, the level of poverty we have in Africa and the dire youth unemployment, to a large extent, can be solved by improving access to power, and by extension other infrastructure deficiencies and deficits. Even though we are making progress, there is still a lot to be done. We need faster progress.”
Elumelu, who is also co-chair of the African Energy Leaders Group (AELG), a community of African energy leaders including Presidents and leading corporates, a Mentor and Role Model to all.