by TINTSWALO BALOYI
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – THE Africa Center has received a major financial boost after philanthropists and business leaders donated US$25 million to finance its next phase of construction.
Alike Dangote, Africa’s wealthiest man donated $20 million at an event held at the center in New York, the United States where the leaders and celebrities gathered to discuss prevailing issues on the continent.
A hall at the center has been named after the Nigerian entrepreneur.
“In recognition of the extraordinary generosity of the Dangote foundation with their gifts in excess of $20 million, it is my honour to announce the naming of this the Aliko Dangote Hall,” said Hadeel Ibrahim, Africa Center Trustee.
A additional $5 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was announced.
Other foundations, corporations and individuals that provided leadership support for the capital campaign, include the Mo Ibrahim Family, who have given over $7 million to the Africa Center in recent years.
The center, formerly known as Museum for African Art, was founded in 1984 to increase public understanding and appreciation of African art and culture. It is now a leading non-profit institution focused on the intersection of African policy, business and culture.
Meanwhile, the leaders that attended the event under the aegis of the Future Africa Forum expressed mixed feelings on the future of the continent amid the bright economic prospects of African continent and lingering problems of climate change.
Bill Gates, the philanthropist Mo Ibrahim and Dangote are among the leaders who spoke about these issues.
Dangote spoke about Africa’s rising wealth.
“Today, when you look at it, you are thinking about the five fastest-growing economies in the world – four are in Sub Saharan Africa,” he said.
Ibrahim said while corruption was an issue, it was not peculiar to Africa.
“Let’s be frank, there is a lot of minds in the West here – people think Africa is a very corrupt place. Corruption is a problem a global problem. I don’t think it is an African problem,” Ibrahim said.
However, there is concern at the impact of climate change and hunger on the continent.
“Africa is where we are going to meet some of our toughest challenges. Sadly the impact climate change, although Africa had the least to do to cause climate change. The actual difficulties will first be felt by the farmers of Africa,” Gates said.
He spoke about the irony of Africa as the continent with the highest availability of the labour, arable land but with the lowest production per hectare, lacking sufficiency and being an importer.
Dr Uzodinma Iweala, Chief Executive Officer of The Africa Center, welcomed the donations.
“This commitment is enabling us to realise our plans to create a vibrant and essential center of ideas and action focused on the 54 nations and people of Africa and its Diaspora,” Iweala sai.
– CAJ News