How Africa’s natural resources can drive industrial revolution


Tony Elumelu, the entrepreneur, philanthropist and chairman of Heirs Holdings Limited (, a pan-African investment company, argues that responsible resource-based industrialisation can power Africa’s economic growth, in an article co-authored with Carlos Lopes, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

Elumelu and Lopes argue that while governments must ensure that they build more enabling business environments, the private sector must take the lead in ensuring that Africa’s abundant natural resources are developed in a way that spreads prosperity throughout the continent.

As highlighted in the article, the latest edition of the Economic Report on Africa (ERA 2013) ( outlines how Africa’s future will be determined by the design and implementation of policies that should promote commodity-based industrialisation.

A supportive policy and investment framework will attract long-term investors, while it is also essential to build local capacity and develop skills. In this way, local economies will be able to grow and diversify, jobs will be created and inequality will be reduced.

However, private-sector business leaders must also do more to tackle poverty and drive social progress by ensuring that long-term value addition – as well as short-term gain – is built into their business model. Africapitalism, an economic philosophy developed by Elemelu, promotes a private-sector led approach to development, and provides a framework for effective collaboration between the public and private sectors and the development community.

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Issue 42