By Nduka Chiejina (Assistant Editor)
The African Development Bank (AfDB) under the leadership of Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina attracted $78.8 billion worth of investment interests into Africa in two years.
The continental bank was able to mobilize these investments "through the innovative and groundbreaking Africa Investment Forum in 2018 and 2019".
Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina said these during his inauguration for a second term of five years as the bank’s President.
According to Adesina, the bank’s impacts were felt in every country as the bank expanded its presence to 44 countries, including across fragile states.
During his first term, Adesina said the AfDB delivered "more for women with the implementation of the Affirmative Finance Action for Women (AFAWA), to leverage $3 billion for women and women businesses".
In addition, the High 5s of the bank (Light up and Power Africa; Feed Africa; Industrialize Africa; Integrate Africa; and Improve the Quality of Life of the people of Africa) which were developed to accelerate the delivery of the Ten-Year Strategy, Adesina
said "have been implemented with deliberateness, speed and rigor".
Over the past five years, the bank has delivered impressive results on these High 5s. They include: 18 million people with access to electricity; 141 million people had access to improved agricultural technologies for food security; 15 million people with
access to finance from private investments; 101 million people with access to improved transport from infrastructure and 60 million people with access to water and sanitation.
The bank’s High5 programmes he said "have impacted 335 million people".
The bank’s non-sovereign operations for the private sector increased 40% from $1.5 billion in 2015 to $ 2.1 billion in 2019, with the highest level of $ 2.5 billion achieved in 2016.
Adesina told the bank’s shareholders that they got value for money as AfDB has the lowest cost among all multilateral development banks.
Looking into the future, and working with the Board of Directors, Akinwunmi Adesina said "the bank will pay increased attention to supporting Africa with quality health care infrastructure, and building on its comparative advantage in infrastructure".
The bank’s infrastructure work he said "will focus on economic infrastructure, quality physical infrastructure and quality health infrastructure."
COVID-19 in Africa he stated has opened up "new opportunities and a greater sense of urgency to build up Africa’s manufacturing capacity, industrial development, and critically needed industrial value chains, that must be supported by enabling infrastructure
In this regard, he said "special attention will be given to regional industrial value chains and the strengthening of financial markets in order to expand intra-regional trade and competitiveness, and boost the Africa Continental Free Trade Area."
The challenges ahead he noted are many – including poverty, inequality, fragility, high youth unemployment, significant infrastructure financing gaps, and sustainable debt management.
During his second term and beyond, Adesina assured that "the bank will play a greater role in policy dialogues with countries. We will support sustainable debt management, boost green growth and accelerate the promotion of jobs for youth on the continent".
Going forward, the AfDB President said the bank "will expand partnerships
– financial partnerships, knowledge partnerships, and investment partnerships. Stronger inclusive partnerships with civil society, academia and knowledge centers of excellence. We will reach out and tilt more global capital towards Africa
– joining investment hands across the globe to support the needs of the continent".
He vowed to ensure that Africa’s youth potential will be fully unleashed. In this regard, the bank he said; "will support the establishment of Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Banks. Banks that will help to mobilize and deploy capital to drive the entrepreneurship
of the youths of Africa – in ways that are systemic, scalable and sustainable."
In agriculture, the AfDB will support "scaling up technologies to reach tens of millions of farmers and supporting Africa to build competitive agricultural value chains".
AfDB Adesina said "will add value to what we produce in Africa, and provide creative and high-tech opportunities for massive youth engagement in agriculture and agribusiness".
This time around, the AfDB’s "focus will be on ‘Institution’, ‘People’, ‘Delivery, and ‘Sustainability.’
Each of these will be captured in the five areas which combine with the programmatic High 5s to transform the development landscape of Africa.
In her address, Nigeria’s finance minister Mrs. Zainab Ahmed urged the AfDB to take "the relevant lessons from the recent experience
— and work to strengthen the institution from this experience".
She also appealed to all stakeholders – member-countries, the Board of Directors, senior management and staff to join hands to push the bank to greater heights of achievement, delivery and efficiency in the interest of
Zainab Ahmed also challenged the AfDB "to step up its efforts in helping African countries to create jobs for our youths because it is clear that Governments alone cannot do this. We truly need this in order to address the problems of unauthorized migration
and extremism across the continent."