Post Views: 523 • Proposes Fresh $1.1bn To Fight Famine In Nigeria, Six Others African Development Bank (AfDB) says it plans to invest $24bn as part o...
• Proposes Fresh $1.1bn To Fight Famine In Nigeria, Six Others
African Development Bank (AfDB) says it plans to invest $24bn as part of ongoing efforts to transform the continent’s agric sector over the next 10 years particularly by engaging the youths and ensuring that they begin to see the sector, no longer as social service but a business.
According to Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, President of the AfDB, the bank has rolled out a programme tagged “ENABLE Youth” to develop a new generation of young commercial farmers and agribusiness entrepreneurs.
Addressing the G20 Meeting on “One World, No Hunger: Future of the Rural World”, Berlin, Germany, on April 27, 2017, in Germany, Adesina said: “Our goal is to develop 10,000 such youth agricultural entrepreneurs per country in the next 10 years.”
He recalled that AfDB had last year provided $700m to support the programme in eight out of the 30 countries from which requests have been received, stressing that the overall goal is to help Africa generate 25m jobs in those next 10 years through our Jobs for Youth in Africa initiative.
“As we speak today, the first-ever Africa Youth in Agriculture Forum is being held at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Nigeria, with the support of the African Development Bank. The youths are the present and future of Africa.”
He urged the G20 member nations to “listen to Africa’s youth, support their ideas, ignite their creativity and enable their entrepreneurship.”
He stressed that “a better rural world requires universal access to electricity. Lack of access to power is the biggest decelerator of Africa’s development. With 645 million people without access to electricity, majority in rural areas, life is just simply tough. That’s why we launched the New Deal on Energy for Africa, to achieve universal access to electricity in ten years. Our goal, to light up and power Africa, is to connect 130m people through the grid and 75 million via off-grid systems and provide 150m with access to clean cooking energy.”
AfDB, he continued, committed $12bn over five years to energy in Africa and expects to leverage $45-50bn. The Bank is leading on renewable energy in Africa, while setting up “a $500m facility for energy inclusion to provide affordable finance, equity and debt, to support businesses in renewable energy doing up to 30 MW. Majority of these will be operating in rural areas.
“We’ve launched the “Africa Off-Grid Energy Revolution” and will be rapidly scaling up financing to scale up business models to reach tens of millions of rural households with electricity and clean cooking energy.
“Providing rural areas with electricity will improve overall quality of life: kids will study with electricity instead of candles or kerosene lanterns, the youths will be connected to the digital world, creating hope. It will reduce rural-to-urban migration and the migration to Europe – because even insects migrate from where it’s dark to where there’s light. When there’s light in rural areas, it will unleash a new dynamism across Africa.”
The AfDB President further called for empowerment of women in the continent’s rural areas who “work so hard, carrying babies on their backs, selling food and eking out a living doing petty trade in the scorching sun, working hard on farms using hoes and cutlasses, yet without security of land tenure, walking kilometers to find fuel wood to cook meals or water for their households.
“What can Africa do without women? A new rural economy must expand economic opportunities for women and provide them access to affordable finance. That’s why the African Development Bank has launched the Affirmative Finance Action for Women (AFAWA) to leverage $3bn for women entrepreneurs in Africa, majority in rural areas.
“Just as birds only fly with two wings, so Africa must fly by giving women full equality with men. We must close the digital gap in rural areas. The most powerful tool in the hand of a farmer today is the mobile phone. We must use them to accelerate access to farm inputs, deliver finance, insurance, market information, extension services and health care services in the rural areas.
“I know the power of this very well. As Minister of Agriculture in Nigeria, I introduced a mobile phone-based system to accelerate farmers’ access to farm inputs. The e-wallet system led to remarkable transformation of the rural economy. Over a period of four years, Nigeria reached 15 million farmers with access to improved seeds and fertilizers. More importantly, over 2.5 million women farmers got their farm inputs through the electronic wallet system on their mobile phones.”
Akinwunmi recalled Hajia Ladi Baladi, one of the farmers, as telling him at the time: “Nowwe get our farm inputs on our mobile phones. Men cannot cheat us anymore.”
“With access to farm inputs, farmers expanded food production by an additional 21m metric tons over four years, reviving rural economies and creating massive amounts of rural jobs. The African Development Bank is now helping to expand this e-wallet system to many African countries.”
The bank, he continued, plans to launch its “Say No to Famine,” through which it would deploy $1.1bn, after approval by its board, “to address immediate, medium- and long-term resilience-building in affected countries: South Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Nigeria.
“We will connect humanitarian and development ladders. The long-term solution is to boost food production in Africa and provide better policies, infrastructure, markets and logistics to move food from food surplus to food deficit areas.”
Along with this, he said, is a plan to address high levels of malnutrition across rural Africa, where 28 of 30 countries are plagued by stunting rates of above 40% and malnutrition costing the continent about $25bn yearly.
“Stunting levels are too high, with 54m stunted children, 14m wasted children and 10m obese children.
“Yes, we need infrastructure, but the best infrastructure we must build is what I call “grey matter infrastructure”. Better-nourished children have better cognitive capacity and will study and learn better.”
Continuing, Adesina also told the gathering that investing in nutrition is not a social, but economic issue, because as he argued, “stunted children today will lead to stunted economies tomorrow.”
He therefore called for “the establishment of Nutrition Social Impact Bonds to front load financing in support of interventions to address malnutrition, including scaling up breastfeeding in the first 1,000 days, bio-fortified foods, community based nutrition, food supplementation and conditional cash transfers for women to support nutrition and child education.