Macron stated this while addressing young African entrepreneurs at an interactive session facilitated by the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF).
According to President Macron who said no fewer than one million people migrate to Europe every year, while there are those who migrate to Europe because of wars and other crises in their home countries, many of those who endanger their lives trying to migrate into Europe through the desert and the Mediterranean Sea do so for economic reasons.
While charging young Africans not to retreat from seeking leadership positions, irrespective of the difficulties, he said, “I decided to take my own risks in politics. When I told some people that I wanted to run for the presidency, they told me it could not work, some asked me to give myself some time. If I had heeded their advice, I would not have realized my dream. If you want to change your country, dare to create new things, try to take your risks.
“Africa is young. The youth have to decide their future, they have to take responsibility. Africa has to decide for Africa.”
Speaking about the Nigerian market, President Macron described it as huge, adding that one of the major challenges young entrepreneurs might be contending within the market is its likely over-regulation to protect existing operators.
He advised young Nigerian entrepreneurs to work more on trading with other West African countries rather than looking at Europe, saying “Integration is good for young African entrepreneurs. I believe in ECOWAS that offers free trade because it increases opportunities of the citizens.”
Macron counselled Nigerian entrepreneurs to believe in their dreams and not be overwhelmed by the success of their contemporaries elsewhere or the enormous challenges they face at home. According to him, “Your nationality does not determine your chances to succeed. If you think you are being a Nigerian will narrow your chances of succeeding, you will never succeed. It is true that the conditions in Nigeria are not as favourable as the conditions in the United States and Europe, but if you will take your chance, you will succeed.”
He charged the continent to build her own role models so that the youth will not have to look elsewhere for motivation. “Africans must build her own role models. Africans must not feel inferior to nationals of other countries,” he said.
In his opening remarks, Mr Tony Elumelu said for Africa to stop being the poster boy of backwardness, the continent must embrace entrepreneurship. He said his foundation was determined to raise and support entrepreneurs who would create 1,000,000 employment opportunities across the continent.
He called on rich people on the continent to look beyond having fat bank accounts to helping African entrepreneurs so that the continent may grow to its full potential.
He also called for collaboration among the government, the private sector and friends of Africa to create employment opportunities on the continent and stem migration.
The session was attended by the leading lights in the country’s polity, business, diplomacy and civil society.
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