Annual meetings in 2024 – Africa’s voice must be heard, says the chairman of the African Development Bank

The president of the African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, says the world is changing and Africa must be at the table.Adesina told more than 150 journalists covering the bank’s annual meetings in Nairobi that the global south is becoming much more important and that the global financial architecture must change as a result:

“The global financial architecture is not addressing Africa’s problems or delivering for Africa. Our voice must be at the table. The global financial architecture must create fairness, equity, justice, representation and inclusiveness.”

Adesina welcomed the International Monetary Fund’s decision to create a third seat for Africa on the board and the admission of South Africa and the African Union into the G20, adding that he believed there should be another seat for Nigeria in the G20. However, he emphasized that cooperation was the key:

“Africa is coming of age because of South-South cooperation, but I don’t see the world in a divisive way. We should look at our ability to pool our energy and use all our diversity for the benefit of the world All our development banks work together , and now there is not a single project in Africa that we cannot finance – not one.”

He said he believed strongly in Africa’s future:

“I am an African. We have the potential to be great as a continent…We have 477 million people under the age of 25. Africa will be the workshop of the world and is full of entrepreneurs and young people who can take opportunities”.

He said Africa’s agricultural potential, with 65% of the world’s uncultivated arable land, will determine the future of the world’s food supply and will make the continent globally competitive. The bank invests heavily in agriculture and cited the bank’s work in Ethiopia, where it has provided heat-tolerant wheat varieties to local farmers. 5,000 hectares were planted, which has now grown to 2 million hectares, and as a result, Ethiopia is now self-sufficient in wheat production and is beginning to export.

“If we can do it for Ethiopia”, says Dr. Adesina, “we can do it anywhere”.

Combating climate change is a key theme at the annual meetings as Africa experiences extreme weather patterns that have brought devastating floods in Kenya and Mozambique and droughts in Tanzania, Malawi and Zimbabwe, which declared a national emergency as the drought grew in intensity and scope.

Adesina said he was humbled that the bank met against the backdrop of floods that recently devastated parts of Kenya and conveyed his sympathy to the families of people who lost their lives.

Adesina says Africa will drive the global renewable energy agenda, using solar energy to fuel future energy needs. By 2030, the African Development Bank, in collaboration with the World Bank, will connect 300 million Africans to electricity. Already the Bank’s New Deal for Africa has increased access to electricity from 37% of Africans to 52%, while its $20 billion Desert to Power project in the Sahel will generate 10,000 megawatts of power, bringing electricity to 250 million people.

“Electricity is the lifeblood of economic development,” says Dr. Adesina, “it enables digital infrastructure, rail and transport corridors such as the Lobito corridor between Angola, Zambia and the DRC and the Lagos to Abidjan highway”.

Adesina said infrastructure like this supported the Banks High 5 objectives of integrating Africa and industrializing Africa. He said he was proud that the two strategic goals, along with the other three High 5s – to “power Africa, feed Africa and improve the quality of life for the people of Africa” – had transformed the lives of 400 million Africans since he introduced them in 2016:

“If we keep doing these High 5s, Africa will reach 90% of its UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 90% of the AU’s Agenda 63 goals. I will work to the last second to achieve this” .

The 5-day African Development Bank’s annual meetings conclude from 27-31. May in Nairobi, Kenya.

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