During a keynote address at the 1st annual Enugu Investment Summit, Chairman of Heirs Holdings and United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA) Tony O. Elumelu presented a compelling case for a sub-regional approach to economic development for Eastern Nigeria. In doing so, he also pledged to invest more steadily in the region.
Elumelu called on governors of the five South East states to harmonise economic policies in order to spur economic development and provide an enabling business environment.
“The truth is that the public and private sectors must collaborate strategically to orchestrate the region’s development. We need the combined effort of regional leaders to create Eastern Industrial hubs; the existing state-by-state fragmentation won’t work in today’s economic reality,” he said.
Organized by the Enugu State Government, the 3-day summit, themed Beyond Oil: Fostering Inclusive Economic Growth and Sustainable Development State governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, affirmed Elumelu’s strategic steer, noting his mission of transforming the state into an economic powerhouse, and a preferred destination for investment.
This first edition of the summit is aimed at showcasing Enugu’s enormous economic potential. The summit will ultimately develop an economic agenda for the five South Eastern states, and promote integration and shared prosperity for South East Nigeria.
While urging Eastern governors to offer regional incentives, he also highlighted the responsibility of private sector individuals.
“"For so long, we have condemned our government for their inability to meet our developmental goals. We have shied away from playing our own role in making things work," he said. “But wealthy Africans should realise that in the 21st Century, wealth is no longer measured by the amount in your bank accounts. You should invest in industries and infrastructure."
Elumelu’s eponymous Foundation is currently investing in Enugu state through the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP). In fact, drawing on the success of the programme – in which 31 youths from Enugu State are among the 2,000 beneficiaries of the $10,000 seed capital provided through TEEP – he made a call to successful people in the eastern region of Nigeria to invest in the youths as a sustainable means of developing the African continent.
The summit attracted foreign and local investors including; the Consul General of the Embassy of France in Nigeria, Laurent Polonceaux; the Nigerian Director of a French Group known as Proparco, Olivier Follin; the Irish Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Sean Hoy, as well as director of an Irish organisation, Sustainable Food Systems Ireland.
Others were members of a conglomerate made up of Chinese, Singaporeans and Nigerians known as Fit Consult/Yuanda Group, including Mr. Wang Yijun of Yuanda Group, Chief Loretta Aniagolu; Mr. Wang Xingjun, Mr. Jiang Xin, Mr. Ronnie Tan all of the Yuanda, Mr. Paschal Dozie of MTN, Samuel Onyeishi of Peace Mass Transit, Ugochukwu Chime of ECCIMA, among others.