Tony Elumelu, Chairman of United Bank for Africa, UBA, Heirs Holdings, Transcorp and founder of Tony Elumelu Foundation has said he is satisfied with his investment in Cameroon and is urging other international investors not shy away investing in Cameroon.
Elumelu, once ranked one of the most influential Africans by Forbes magazine, made the declarations in a keynote speech he presented at an International Economic Conference that kicked off in the main auditorium of the Yaounde Conference Centre on May 17.
Taking the floor right after President Biya, Jose Manuel Barroso, Former President of the European Commission, and Dr. Un-Chan Chung, Former Prime Minister of South Korea, Elumelo held guests at the jam-packed 1500 capacity conference hall spellbound.
The theme of his keynote speech was; “Economic Philosophy of Africapitalism: Serving customers and financing added-value projects in Cameroon.” He put forward that no nation or continent can grow without a financially viable, entrepreneurial and an indigenous middleclass.
He assured potential investors that Cameroon is a good bargain, stressing that he had been in business in Paul Biya’s country for many years and it has been a story of no regrets.
Africapitalism is an economic philosophy launched in during a May 2014 World Economic Forum on Africa in Abuja, Nigeria. To Elumelu who coined the term in 2011, the African private sector has the power to transform the continent through long-term investments, creating both economic prosperity and social wealth.
He emphasized that for Cameroon to grow economically, it must have strong investments by local entrepreneurs as well as a strong energy sector.
However, an economic analyst, who preferred not to be named, quipped that Elumelo should have known that Cameroon is desperately seeking foreign investment because most of the country’s funds are in private coffers of embezzlers who would not invest for fear of being probed by the anti-corruption commission.
“Elumelu’s ideas are great, but until Cameroon starts recovering money from embezzlers, local entrepreneurs would always be lacking in financing,” he said.
Meanwhile, the UBA chairman revealed in a press conference in Yaounde before the economic forum that his bank is ready to provide financing for Cameroonians with good business initiatives.
He said so far Kenya and Ghana have the highest number of young entrepreneurs (between 50 and 150 beneficiaries) who have received funding from the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship program, while Cameroon still has below 30. “We need more from Cameroon” he said.
It was also revealed that the UBA has been in the business of supporting the government of Cameroon, particularly in areas of road infrastructure, education and oil sectors.