Friday, October 28, 2016

“Better governance will solve Africa’s problems,”—Tony Elumelu

PRESS RELEASE—Philanthropists, Tony O. Elumelu, Bill Gates discuss the role of global philanthropy on business, politics and culture at Le Club de l'Economie hosted by Le Monde in Paris
Tony Elumelu (with red tie)

Speaking at the Le Club de l’Economie in Paris France on Monday, Tony O. Elumelu, Chairman of Heirs Holdings and UBA Plc and Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, made a call to the French business community, global stakeholders and influential Africans in the development world to embrace ‘structured philanthropy’ in support of rising entrepreneurs with great potential, as a means to achieving sustainable development in Africa.

He made this call during a live interview conducted by Serge Michel, Editor-in-Chief at Le Monde Afrique, to an audience of high level political and business leaders, including the French Development Agency, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, representatives of international organisations, such as the World Bank, and the IMF, as well as representatives of civil society and selected journalists. This is coming a few days before the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Forum, the largest annual gathering of African entrepreneurs, scheduled to take place on October 28-29th in Lagos, Nigeria, to celebrate the 2016 cohort of Elumelu Entrepreneurs, selected from over 45,000 applicants in 54 African countries.

In what has become a formidable gathering featuring a series of talks on business and economic issues, this special edition of ‘Le Club de l’Economie’ was dedicated to the influence of global philanthropy on business, politics and culture, featuring the world’s most influential philanthropists, including the world’s richest man, Bill Gates. Prior to his participation at Le Monde, Mr. Elumelu paid a courtesy call to the French Development Agency (AFD), where he met with CEO Mr. Remy Rioux to discuss concrete ways in which AFD can be supported by local partners ahead of plans to increase its annual financing commitment to Africa. Mr. Elumelu was joined by Bill Gates, his co-panelist at the Le Monde Philanthropy Forum.

Elumelu explained the challenges in developing Africa. “The biggest obstacles to development in Africa are a lack of an enabling environment, infrastructure and access to electricity. Imagine a young entrepreneur having to provide power access for a growing business."

He proffered solutions to some of the obstacles saying: “It is important that Africans increasingly embrace ‘structured giving’ because it helps us, assist worthy individuals who are not part of our families, or neighbourhoods, but who have great need and potential.”

Further expounding on the benefits of Africapitalism, Elumelu cited the achievements of the Tony Elumelu Foundation’s Entrepreneurship Programme as a valid example of how Africans can solve their own problems via entrepreneurship and better governance.

“Better governance will solve our problems. We can't afford to ignore entrepreneurship. We need to do both. We need government to realize that the success of entrepreneurs will lead to more success for government. Government can't create all the employment opportunities needed in the economy. Only the private sector can do this. Government must create an enabling environment to allow businesses to thrive.”
Bill Gates also a panelist at the event buttressed this point during his session, 

"States can no longer fund themselves their development, by giving back, we tap into the best part of ourselves. Everything significant we've done was through partnerships."

Elumelu concluded by encouraging French investors to connect with local partners, while also calling on both the public and private sector to invest back into the continent by focusing on entrepreneurship.

Le Club de L’Economie is organised by leading French newspaper, Le Monde. Other participants at the event included Bill Gates, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs, France; The Aga Khan, spiritual head of the Ismaili Muslim community and Remy Rioux, CEO of Agence Francaise de Development.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

MTN Foundation Supports Eseka Train Crash Victims

Representative of the Minister of Public Health receives medical consignment 
Yaoundé—MTN Foundation has handed over of a ‘significant amount’ of medication to the Ministry of Public Health (MINSANTE) to assist in the care of victims of the Eseka train accident the killed over 60people and injured nearly 600 others.

A ceremony to that effect took place Saturday at the headquarters of the Emergency Operations Centre of the Ministry of Public Health in Yaounde as rescue operations continued at the derailment site some 120kilometers west of the capital of the Central African nation.

“There are over 500 people who need urgent medical attention. In face of such a situation, it is natural for us to show our solidarity,” said Melvin Akam, executive secretary of the MTN Foundation.

The executive secretary hoped the ‘modest contribution’ will reinforce the capacity of the teams catering for the wounded, and assist victims of this accident.

This medication received on behalf of the Public Health by Dr Georges Alain Etoundi Mballa, Director of Disease Control in the Ministry was destined for use by the emergency aid workers of that government department deployed to assist those injured during the tragic train derailment.

A statement from the MTN Foundation said it might provide additional support based on the evolution of the situation.

Rescue workers have remained at the scene of the derailment searching for more injured or dead bodies.

President Paul Biya who has ruled the country since 1982 has declared Monday October 24 a national day of mourning in memory of those who lost their lives in the crash.

By Ndi Eugene Ndi

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Joy In Douala As Jailed Anti-Colonial Activist Is Freed

Douala—Cameroonian anti-colonialism activist, Andre Blaise Essama who was jailed for destroying the statue of a French colonial administrator, General Leclerc was freed from a Douala prison late Friday amidst an atmosphere of joy.
Andre Blaise Essama was freed on Friday

Douala-based television channel, Equinoxe TV footage showed crowds of motorbike riders, friends and family members singing ‘liberty songs’ outside the New Bell prison as they received the activist who spent six months in the dungeon.

On July 4 this year, a Douala court sentenced the nationalist activist to six months in jail for destroying public property. He had already spent 96 days in detention as of the day of his conviction.

The activist had pulled down the imposing statue in the heart of the economic capital on claims that such statues have no place in Cameroon.

“The statue of General Leclerc should join its ancestors in France. It has no place in Cameroon” the activist said then.

Essama claimed that the statue is occupying space that could have been reserved for national heroes who fought for Cameroon’s independence like Ruben Um Nyobe, John Ngu Foncha, and Martin Paul Samba among others.

“Can you find the statue of these our national martyrs in Paris?” Essama questioned.

Most streets, educational and health institutions in Cameroon have been named after some nationals of the former colonial master like Dr Jamot and General Charles de Gaulle.

“These names remind me of the painful colonial period that was marked by blood shed of our national heroes,” Essama said.

It was not the first time the anti French activist was pulling down the same statue. He did same in 2013 but the Douala city council rebuilt it months later. He had served a three months jail term in 2015 for the same act.

The activist has promised to continue his struggle despite what he described as intimidation from authorities.

He promised he will continue his struggle for the restoration of the memory of the national heroes of Cameroon.

Mr Essama said his first action following his release will be a proposal of effigies of Cameroonian nationalists to authorities of the Douala city council in replacement of those of foreign figures of the colonial era.

By Ndi Eugene Ndi