Nigerian businessman and philanthropist Abdul Samad Rabiu announced this week the launch of the Abdul Samad Rabiu Initiative — an annual fund of $100 million that is intended to help boost African development.
Rabiu is the founder and chairman of the BUA Group, and is the sixth richest person in Africa, according to Forbes.
The rollout of funds is set to start from this year, and will be focusing on education, health, and social development. Rabiu's home country, Nigeria, will receive $50 million and the other half of the funding will be distributed across the continent.
In the first phase of the initiative, six Nigerian universities will receive N1 billion (over $2 million), to go towards providing and upgrading infrastructure. The institutions receiving the grant in the first phase include Ahmadu Bello University (with this grant reportedly provided on March 25), University of Maiduguri, University of Nigeria, University of Benin, University of Ilorin, and University of Ibadan.
The funds will also be broadly used for equipping facilities, researchers, health care practitioners, and service providers at the community level with the tools needed for their work. The funding boost is much-needed, with health care systems in Nigeria and Africa more widely under immense pressure as a result of the pandemic.
"They say life begins at 50; what they never tell you is that a pandemic can change your life at 60," said Rabiu in a statement, released on March 23. "In that year 2020, when I turned 60, at least 2 million others turned into memories, taken by this deadly virus."
"I watched millions become numbers in a global death toll and ancestors in the world beyond," he continued. "The same pandemic that forced us humans to slow down, now forces our humaneness to square up."
For accountability, the initiative will present annual reports, the statement highlighted, with all activities reportedly overseen by "a sterling board of trustees." Rabiu also urged beneficiaries and members of the public to hold the initiative to account, by contacting, commending, recommending, or complaining.
This isn’t the first time the billionaire has shown up for those in need on the continent. Previously, Rabiu pledged N1 billion to help fight COVID-19 in Nigeria and further donated medical and emergency kits, masks, testing kits, and personal protective gear to nine states in the country.
"As the world tries to claw its way back to business as usual, the Abdul Samad Rabiu Initiative's Africa Fund for Social Development and Renewal aims to be a modest reminder to us all that until our health, education, and other development issues are fixed, business as usual in these times, means business as brutal,” Rabiu said.
He added: “We pledge to continue to do what we can to support ongoing efforts by various governments to bridge the development divide across Africa."