The US and international investors should engage proactively with Africa’s private sector to develop the continent.

This is the message from Tony Elumelu, chairman of the most diversified investment groups in Africa, part of a delegation of high profile African business leaders meeting President Barack Obama in Tanzania.

Elumelu says the rules of engagement for Africa have changed and that those looking to invest on the continent should consider aligning with an economic philosophy he called Africapitalism. The concept seems to be gaining momentum on the continent and beyond – the UK Guardian newspaper has run a feature suggesting it could be the new model for Africa’s development.

“Africa’s economic history has been characterised by extractive industries and rent seeking practices that have not created development in any meaningful way. Africapitalism is simply saying there is a better and more ethical way to invest in Africa for a sustainable future. I would like to see both African and international investors review their strategies for Africa.

“Yes, we are open for business but not at any cost. Our rules of engagement have changed,” says Elumelu.

It is anticipated Elumelu will be part of a major announcement the US government will make about the power sector. Through Transcorp, one of Heirs Holdings investee companies, the group recently invested $300-million in Nigeria’s largest power plant, located in Ughelli, Delta State during the Nigerian government’s recent power privatization process.

Commenting on the motivation behind the power investment, he said: “Unlimited access to affordable power in any country is a game changer and will move the needle on the country’s development exponentially.

“It’s not just the fact that children will be able to do their homework, or that computers and phones can be powered in rural villages; it is also the impact that access to affordable power will have on the economic ecosystem. Prices will come down, entrepreneurs will expand and innovate, and jobs will be created as a result. This is Africapitalism at work.”