Post Views: 201 President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, on Monday in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, challenged governments o...
President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, on Monday in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, challenged governments of African nations not to trouble themselves about its plan to plan to raise capital, but on the mounting needs of the continent that must be addressed in an increasingly competitive world.
Addressing representatives of the West Africa region on its board, during consultative meetings attended by senior management, to take stock of the bank’s accelerated engagement in the region, Adesina said the continent still has “a long way to go,” in terms of infrastructure development.
At the meeting which followed the AfDB’s Board of Directors’ authorization to engage in discussions with shareholders for a General Capital Increase urged his guests to think of “how much development we want to have in Africa and how much we are willing to pay for it… (rather than) on how much it would cost.”
For him, the choices before Africa “is not so much (about) what we can afford: it is what Africa deserves. Under-development is more expensive.”
Africa’s GDP growth rate is projected to grow by 4.1% in 2019, slightly better than last year’s 4%, a situation the bank says does not paint the full picture, given that 45% of the countries will grow at above 5%, according to figures on West Africa’s regional economic outlook shared by Celestin Monga, Vice President and Chief Economist in his presentation before the governors.
A review of AfDB’s activities, he said, showed that 2018 was a strong year for flagship projects and innovative financial instruments with 65 projects, in 15 countries, valued at US $2.8bn, approved for the region.
One of the major projects financed solely, according to a statement by the bank, was the Senegambia Bridge (linking neighbouring Senegal and Gambia, which was inaugurated in January. There was also the Regional Express Train, the first speed train in West Africa, financed inaugurated in Dakar, Senegal, besides financing of the construction of a modern international airport in Ghana; just as Ghana’s national Cocoa Board received a financing plan of $600m to improve productivity and build warehouses.
There is also the Desert to Power Initiative, which will develop 10,000 mega watts of solar zone all across the Sahel, to provide electricity for 250m people, 90m of them via off-grid solar systems, which has already started in Burkina Faso, with the Yelen solar project.
Many of the governors, AfDB noted, expressed support for the planned capital increase, with Ghanaian Finance Minister Kenneth Ofori Atta, acknowledging the bank’s comparative advantage, which he summarized in the fact that “Africa trusts the Bank.”
Speaking further at the meeting, the second annual consultative gathering aimed at sharing views with the governors, after the maiden one initiated he in 2018, Adesina the “ultimate goal is to ensure that the Governors are much closer to the bank, and that you are integrally involved in the wider vision and direction, particularly as it pertains to the challenges and needs of your respective regions.
“Today, I am filled with hope. Hope because Africa is changing. Hope because across the continent, despite challenges, you can see a rising determination to turn things around,” he further noted.
During the consultations, the Ministers called for greater focus on women to close the gender gap, address climate change, and increase attention to development in fragile states.
Calling AfDB the economic arm of the African Union, governors also highlighted the need for it to engage in global issues so as to influence and help shape the conversations around foreign investments. Governors also focused on institutional capacity building, nutrition, data collection as well as regional integration and digital connectivity.
In particular, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa, highlighted the need “to mobilise domestic funds and use our pension funds more efficiently,” which was echoed by Dr. Mahmoud Isa-Dutse, Permanent Secretary of Nigeria’s Finance Ministry and representative of the Minister, Mrs. Zainab Usman.
“Infrastructure is very critical. We hope the bank will continue to support and add value to our one government data platform,” Liberia’s Minister of Agriculture Mogana Flomo said, while Ministers from Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea and Guinea Bissau called for more support for institutional capacity building.
The statement put total number of transformative projects undertaken by AfDB between 2010 and 2017 across West Africa at 370, valued at US $11.3bn, which it says are changing lives and making a difference.
Also at the meeting, the governors, who are Finance or Economic Planning ministers in their respective countries, were taken through the AfDB’s interventions and lendings over the past year in presentations by senior management. They included: Marie-Laure Akin-Olugbade, Director General, West Africa Regional Development and Business Delivery Office; Stella Kilonzo, Senior Director of the Africa Investment Forum; Timothy Turner, Group Chief Risk Office and Swazi B. Tshabalala, Vice President and Chief Finance Officer.