Banking Guru, Tony Elumelu: Africa’s Pride
In the words of the late South African President and anti-apartheid revolutionary, “A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.”
Today, one of the few men in Africa who typify this witty saying by the late Mandela, a great political leader, is the Chairman of United Bank For Africa, UBA, Tony Elumelu. For many years, he has been busy promoting unity through his Africapitalism, an economic philosophy that embodies the private sector’s commitment to the economic transformation of Africa through long-term investments that create both economic prosperity and social wealth. He sees Africans taking charge of the value-adding sectors and ensuring that those value-added processes happen in Africa.
Rising from his modest beginnings, he ascended to the pinnacle of banking in Nigeria and has significant investments in the energy, hospitality, agribusiness, healthcare and real estate sectors. His net worth is estimated to be in the region of 700 million US Dollars.
His Tony Elumelu Foundation reaches across Africa to stimulate Africa’s economic development by enhancing the competitiveness of the African private sector. Where many lack funding and access to education that enhances entrepreneurial pursuits, his Foundation provides both and indeed much more for an increasing number of Africans. He is respected across the world and when he talks and his voice influences millions to the extent that in 2012 Forbes ranked him among the top 20 most influential Africans.
The billionaire has addressed the sad, recurring and ongoing cases of xenophobia in South Africa by black South Africans targeting foreign nationals. In a heartfelt missive that has gone viral, he started by reiterating his belief that Africa is a beautiful and blessed continent, and that we Africans are our greatest resource.
According to banking wizard “Let’s not lose sight of our shared destiny. We need to stop attacking each other but rather embrace one another and work together to uplift our continent and be our brother’s and sister’s protectors wherever we may find ourselves. This is the only way to our economic liberation and prosperity.
“I am disheartened by the videos and stories floating around social media around these xenophobic attacks! They are despicable and pure madness! We must say no to barbarism and savagery. Violently mutilating and killing our brothers and raping our sisters; looting and destroying their livelihoods is evil and un-African and it dehumanizes us all. Instead, we must always seek to elevate, protect and help one another.”
He shared the story of how in his early days, even though banks were still heavily focused on metropolitan areas, his desire to give opportunities to everyone and access to financial services to people all over the country drove him to ensure that Standard Trust Bank expanded all over Nigeria. When he became CEO of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) in 2005, from being a one-country operation at the time, he was able to expand in Africa to 20 countries delivering excellence in financial services before he stepped down from the ubiquitous bank’s helm of affairs. With his sights set on Africa at that point, he founded the Tony Elumelu Foundation and today it empowers young African men and women in all 54 countries across the continent.
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Facebook Announces its New Office in Lagos, Nigeria
As part of its continued commitment and ongoing investment in Africa, Facebook today announced it will be opening an office in Lagos, Nigeria – its second office on the African continent. Aimed at supporting the entire Sub-Saharan Africa region, the office is expected to become operational in H2 2021 and will be the first on the continent to house a team of expert engineers building for the future of Africa and beyond.Facebook’s office will be home to various teams servicing the continent from across the business, including Sales, Partnerships, Policy, Communications as well as Engineers.Commenting, Ime Archibong, Facebook’s Head of New Product Experimentation said: “The opening of our new office in Lagos, Nigeria presents new and exciting opportunities in digital innovations to be developed from the continent and taken to the rest of the world. All across Africa we’re seeing immense talent in the tech ecosystem, and I’m proud that with the upcoming opening of our new office, we’ll be building products for the future of Africa, and the rest of the world, with Africans at the helm. We look forward to contributing further to the African tech ecosystem.” The investment of the new Facebook office follows the 2018 opening of NG_Hub, its first flagship community hub space in Africa in partnership with CcHub, and the 2019 opening of a Small Business Group (SBG) Operations Centre in Lagos, in partnership with Teleperformance. Providing outsourced support to all English-speaking advertisers across Sub-Saharan Africa, the SBG office supports Small Medium Businesses (SMBs) through its Advocacy, Community & Education (ACE) programme, as well as its Marketing Expert sales programmes – all aimed at enabling SMBs to accelerate the growth and development of their businesses. “Our new office in Nigeria presents an important milestone which further reinforces our ongoing commitment to the region”, commented Kojo Boakye, Facebook’s Director of Public Policy, Africa. “Our mission in Africa is no different to elsewhere in the world – to build community and bring the world closer together, and I’m excited about the possibilities that this will create, not just in Nigeria, but across Africa.” Since the opening of its first office in 2015, Facebook has made a number of investments across the continent, aimed at supporting and growing the tech ecosystem, expanding and providing reliable connectivity infrastructures and helping businesses to grow locally, regionally and globally. This includes the recent rollout of its SMB Grants programme in Nigeria and South Africa, aimed at supporting over 900 businesses by providing a combination of cash and ad credits to help small businesses as they rebuild from COVID. The development of 2Africa, the world’s largest subsea cable project that will deliver much needed internet capacity and reliability across large parts of Africa, as well as its ongoing training programmes across the continent which support various communities including students, SMBs, digital creatives, female entrepreneurs, start-up’s and developers. Nunu Ntshingila, Regional Director, Facebook Africa,said: “We’re delighted to be announcing our new office in Nigeria. Five years on from opening our first office on the continent in Johannesburg, South Africa, we’re continuing to invest in and support local talent, as well as the various communities that use our platforms. The office in Lagos will also be key in helping to expand how we service our clients across the continent.”
Billionaire Businessman, Harry Akande, Battles Shoprite
Billionaire Harry Ayoade Akande towers above many of his contemporaries, particularly because he has been in warm embrace of fame for many decades.
Beyond his famed status as a successful businessman, he has also remained very relevant owing to his uncommon brilliance, a quality that has endeared him to many across the globe.
The Agbaoye of Ibadan, who set out to pursue his dreams quite early in life, had served as a business advisor and consultant to many other businessmen, including governments of several nations.
The world-class businessman in the past has scored many firsts in the nation’s business climate to the envy of many of his competitors.
Indeed, he would have scored yet another first in 2005, as the South African retail store, Shoprite, had several meetings with his company, AIC Limited, and agreed his company would be the exclusive operator and manager of its brand across West Africa, except Ghana where the Shoprite brand was already established.
Consequently , there were a series of business meetings between Akande’s representatives and Shoprite Checkers first in South Africa on April 16, 1998 and then at Akande’s office in Victoria Island, Lagos on May 27, 1998.
Shoprite was also said to have flown in representatives who were shown possible locations for retail stores at some locations ,including Lekki Roundabout, Trade fair Complex and Lagos National Theatre, Iganmu.
But when the South African retail giant was ready to commence operations in Nigeria, it allegedly sidelined Akande’s AIC and incorporated another company, Retail Supermarkets Nigeria Limited, and began using the new entity to operate in Nigeria, thereby breaching agreements between them.
The billionaire was upset and this led to a prolonged legal battle with Akande securing a 2018 major victory against the South African retail group for breaching contract between both parties in Suit No LD/488/2010 —AIC Limited (Claimant) v Shoprite Checkers (PTY) Ltd of South Africa and Retail Supermarkets Nigeria Limited (Defendants).
However, Shoprite owners appealed the judgement, while the Ibadan, Oyo State-born billionaire secured another victory in May 2020 at the appellate court.
Though the three-man panel of Court of Appeal , Lagos Division, didn’t agree to Akande’s cross appeal, demanding 50 per cent of $92.3million as loss of profit he suffered due to the incorporation of Retail Supermarkets Limited, it unanimously affirmed the judgment of a Lagos High Court that awarded $10 million (N4.7 billion) damages against Shoprite Checkers (PTY) Limited.
Apart from the $10 million award, the court had directed the South African retail giant to pay 10 percent per annum on the damages, with effect from the date of judgment until the final liquidation of the entire sum.
Consequently, the shrewd businessman has initiated a fresh legal battle at the Federal High Court to halt Shoprite Checkers’ exit moves out of Nigeria until the entire sum demanded is paid to the last kobo.
The billionaire, through his company, has got an ex-parte application for an order of Mareva Injunction restraining the South African retail giant, its privies, officers, nominees, successors-in-title, subsidiaries or anyone acting through it or by it from transferring, assigning, charging, disposing of its trademark, franchise and intellectual property in a manner that will alter, dissipate or remove these non-cash assets from the court’s jurisdiction.
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