On his visit to Nigeria, the French president Macron met with over 1000 African entrepreneurs in an interactive business forum hosted by the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) in Lagos. The conference saw the president answer questions on foreign policy, personal failures and emerging business policies. He touched on rules of leadership “There are no rules”, and on ideas and strategies that will broaden economic development and progress in Africa.
In his speech at the New Afrika Shine the day before, he highlighted the importance of politics in light of the event, stressing that young people need to get involved in political circles, “It is important”, he said. At the TEF conference, though, he spoke more of the importance of the private sector in the continent’s progress. Though he emphasized that both private and public sectors need to be intertwined to see sustainable success, most importantly, the importance of the privately owned businesses in creating a foundation for the sort of growth he has envisioned for Africa.
President Macron also emphasized the importance of innovation in the growth of the continent. He acknowledges the urgent need for a security structure, but he assures that some of these problems can be solved with smart, innovative business structures. His advice is that we focus not only on financial markets but also on financing sports and entertainment sectors.
He discussed migration as a result of poor economic opportunities focused on the risks and consequences of poor work and education opportunities for people in the lower-middle income bracket. He said that people fleeing from war zones must be protected, and those are the ones who should be migrating. Those from other countries only do so because the opportunities seem bleak.
Smugglers, he said, often pry on the vulnerabilities of people in this bracket; with the promise that opportunities are endless in the European countries, they transport them. His proposed that government policies ensuring greater consequences for smugglers and that business owners need to focus as much of their efforts on making money as on ensuring those closest to their business spaces benefit from them. “We cant take opportunities in the countries without taking care of the people”. On the topic of fighting against smugglers, Tony Elumelu added that we need to use media as a tool by getting people who have fallen victims to share their stories — what Nigeria’s The 300 Project is currently doing.
Another push factor of Migration he noted is demography and overpopulation. He said that overpopulation is as a result of excessive childbearing. If it were the woman’s choice, he wouldn’t be opposed to it, but what we have found, he said, citing France as an example, is that when women are more educated the tendency to have too many children reduces. It is when women are forced into marriages solely for the purpose of childbearing, when young girls are forced into marriage and when they are stripped of their opportunity to create their own opportunities find their own financial independence that women find themselves with “7- 10 children”.With this point, he pointed out that If we solve the problem of girl’s education and financial oppression of women, we reduce population and the migration consequences of scarcity of funds will most likely become less intense.
“I am a strong believer in the African private sector because it is the best way for African businesses to transform the economies in the continent. The private sector has the capacity to drive inclusive economic growth across Africa” Macron said. After which he pledged 500 billion Naira on behalf of the French Development Agency to the Digital Africa Initiative, a Nigerian initiative focused on creating a platform for entrepreneurial knowledge and business information sharing to promote holistic economic growth on the continent.
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