The chairman of Heirs Holdings and United Bank for Africa (UBA), Tony Elumelu has called for stronger business relationship between Africa and France.
Speaking at the MEDEF Summer University Forum in Paris , Elumelu who is also founder of Elumelu foundation stressed the opportunities Africa offers and urged stronger business relationships between France, Africa and calling for the “deepening of commercial relationships based on mutual respect and interest”.
A statement explained that the forum is one of France’s leading gatherings, “bringing together over 7,500 business and opinion leaders, including Heads of State, government officials, political and
business leaders, academics and over 450 French and international journalists”.
Elumelu was one of the select representatives from Africa. He contributed to the opening panel debate, ‘The World is Watching Us’. Moderated by Frédéric Ferrer, journalist, consultant and professor at ESCP Europe.
Other participants were the President of MEDEF, Pierre Gattaz; Gary Coombe, President of Proctor & Gamble Europe; and Oudet Souvannavong, Executive Vice-President of the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and President of Lao Hotel & Restaurant Association.
As a leading advocate for the African private sector and champion of African entrepreneurship, Elumelu began his speech by thanking France for the cordial business relationship between France and Africa. “When we as Africans look at France, we see a long standing friend of Africa. Looking forward, France and Africa must continue to partner in a manner that brings about positive change.”
He urged France to look beyond its traditional relationships with
Francophone countries, important as they are, and to embrace Anglophone and Lusophone Africa.
He called on small and large businesses in France and in Africa to seek ways of collaborating in order to deepen economic ties. “France has very strong links with Francophone Africa, and we would like to see you engage more commercially with the Anglophone countries; creating a new form of economic and commercial partnership between France and the whole of Africa,” he said.
He added: “There is a reason MEDEF has a new economic interest in Africa. Africa is home to the largest and fastest growing consumer population globally. It is a huge opportunity for both international and domestic businesses – and African businesses are increasingly competing successfully. What we all want to see is Africa growing its own value adding industries; the days of commodity extraction are over.”
On his part, Pierre Gattaz said: “Full employment should be on the agenda of any political programme that is worth any value or worth its name. This should take up 70% of any political agenda moving forward. We must encourage and trust those who bring enterprise and create jobs”.