African Philanthropists and Economic Progress

Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller stand in history for their industrial success, which was complemented by philanthropy. Their contribution to the structural transformation of the United States is undeniable, and they offer lessons we need to learn in Africa to accelerate the pace of transformation.

African philanthropy is rooted in strong traditions of self-help, self-support, and volunteer institutions. Philanthropy is central to African culture where informal and formal giving is part of belonging to community and family life.

The rise of the continent’s billionaires is also the story of leveraging African resources to create wealth, and they are increasingly sharing the fruits of their labor with their communities. As these industrialists expand their reach through philanthropy, it is important to pause and reflect on how my generation can support these efforts to create wealth, not just alleviate poverty.

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