BILLIONAIRE businessman Tony Elumelu has asked Japan to invest $2.5bn on young and budding entrepreneurs in Nigeria and other African countries as part of a programme to regain market share it has recently lost to rivals.
In 2004, Japan was the fourth largest trade partner with sub-Saharan Africa, with two-way trade valued at $11.7bn, according to the International Monetary Fund. However, now, Japan has fallen to number six, having been overtaken by India and the United Arab Emirates and Tokyo is looking for means to regain lost ground.
At the ongoing seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (Ticad) in Yokohama, Japanese ministers are meeting with African leaders to address the matter. Speaking on the sidelines of the conference, Mr Elumelu, an investor and philanthropist, expressed his vision of a relationship between Japan and Africa, which prioritises economic and shared prosperity.
Mr Elumelu said: “At Ticad 2016 in Kenya, Japan pledged $30bn for Africa but this year they have generously increased this to $50bn. If we invested just 5% in Africa’s new generation of entrepreneurs, following a proven model of getting capital directly to those best placed to catalyse growth and create real impact, we could touch 500,000 lives in Nigeria and across other African countries, broadening markets, facilitating job creation, improving income per capita, and laying the key foundation for political and economic stability.”
He expressed his vision of a relationship between Japan and Africa, which prioritises economic and shared prosperity. Mr Elumelu outlined the three key pillars of a bold and transformative structure, which included investment in infrastructure, partnership with the African private sector and investment in Africa’s youth.
Furthermore, he urged Japan to learn from the example of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, which champions empowering African entrepreneurs, as the most sustainable means of accelerating the development of Africa. Japan’s total investment in Africa was only $32bn in 2014, compared with China’s $66.4bn.