French President Emmanuel Macron has offered a bold and new vision of his country’s relationship with Africa.
Speaking at an exclusive session hosted by the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) in Lagos on Wednesday, the French leader canvassed a new partnership, prioritising the role of entrepreneurship in driving Africa’s renaissance, highlighting the importance of the private sector and most importantly, saying the continent’s future was and should be in Africa’s hands.
Macron spoke at the vibrant, no-holds barred interactive session in front of 2,000 alumni of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, who sought advice from the youthful president on how to grow their businesses, reach European markets amid rising nationalism and emerging trade wars and the secrets of his political success.
Macron’s experience as an outsider, who transformed French politics, was also made bare in the well-charged room where the audience was held spellbound.
His words: “To young African entrepreneurs: never listen to people who are telling you to wait.
“If you believe in your projects: just do it. Our role is to help the new generation to seize opportunities and rise to the challenge. This is what underpins a new, balanced relationship.”
TEF Founder, Tony Elumelu, who moderated the event, opened his remarks by acknowledging the importance of the occasion for African entrepreneurship.
He said: “The French president recognises the critical importance of African entrepreneurs to sustainable economic development on the continent – he knows the African narrative is changing and will change. His voice is refreshing and welcome.”
Elumelu added: “We want France and the rest of the world to realise that Africa is a continent of opportunities.”