Business & Economy

AfDB president outlines strategy to transform Africa, welcomes development partners

AFRICAN Development Bank (AfDB) president, Akinwumi Adesina, has outlined the Bank’s new development priorities and underscored the importance of partnerships during his first annual luncheon with ambassadors and the diplomatic corps in Côte d’Ivoire.
During the luncheon on February 11 in Abidjan, Adesina presented the Bank’s new agenda, including the High 5s, which aim to light up and power Africa, to feed Africa, to industrialise Africa, to integrate Africa and to improve the living conditions of Africans. He also urged those in attendance to work together to support Africa, especially fragile and conflict-affected states, and to fight climate change. ‘At the Bank, we are currently accelerating the delivery of our Ten Year Strategy through sharper focus on the High 5s,’ the president said, explaining that energy is key.
The president pointed out that no fewer than 645 million Africans have no access to electricity. The result: businesses and SMEs cannot function adequately, resulting in widespread unemployment. ‘Energy is crucial, as the region cannot continue to live in darkness and we lose many lives every day due to lack of electricity,’ he said.
Despite the challenges that lie ahead, Adesina affirmed that the continent is resilient, and so is the AfDB. ‘We reached 90 percent of our African Development Fund (ADF) financing target for the year,’ he said. In 2015, ‘overall loans and grants in the year for the entire Bank amounted to $9bn, up from $7.1bn in 2014, which is about a 26 percent increase. Over 50 percent of the institution’s 2015 approvals went to infrastructure, of which 30 percent went to transport and 15 percent to energy projects.’
However, Adesina made it clear that the continent cannot achieve its development goals without its partners. ‘You are already our greatest champions and advocates,’ he said.
He affirmed that the continent is indeed resilient and dynamic, and stressed that it has seen economic growth thanks to improved political stability, and solid macroeconomic and fiscal policies. The continent has built its resilience and dynamism on factors such as increased public sector investment in infrastructure and improved private consumption, he added.
Adesina also outlined that despite economic headwinds with declines in commodity prices and weakening demand, the economic prospects are still good for the continent, with growth projected to accelerate to 4.4 percent in 2016 and strengthening further to 5 percent in 2017.

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