Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The President of Africa Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, saturday in Abuja, disclosed that the apex African Bank actually supported Nigeria out of recession in 2017 by pumping funds in the region of $600 million into the then receding Africa’s largest economy.
Adesina, who made this disclosure while delivering a speech at the 56th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of States and Governments held at the Conference Centre of the Presidential Villa, also said that the Bank had portfolio investments totaling $20 billion in the ECOWAS region.
But President Muhammadu Buhari, while making his speech, lamented the increasing terrorism attacks, saying they remained a major threat to peace and progress in West Africa.
He therefore noted that recurrent attacks by insurgents were a wake up call for a lasting security partnership aimed at confronting and defeating cross-border terrorism.
However, Adesina, while shedding light on AfDB’s intervention in the country, said the bank had always come to the rescue of African countries in their moments of crisis, explaining that the period of the last recession in Nigeria was tough for the largest black country, and in line with its commitment to help countries in their critical times, the bank helped to get the country out of recession with $600 million.
He said the bank was mainly focused on investment in energy, transport, infrastructure, private sector, regional financial market integration, water and sanitation,adding that the Bank’s portfolio investments in the ECOWAS region totals $20 billion.
Adesina said the bank established Development Bank of Nigeria in the country and invested yet another $230 million to assist Nigeria in stabilising livelihoods in the North-eastern part of Nigeria.
“Your Excellencies, African Development Bank’s portfolio investments in the ECOWAS region totals $20 billion. Our major focus is on energy and transport infrastructure, private sector, regional financial market integration, water and sanitation.
“The Bank has been very responsive during critical times that matter most. We are there always at the right time, with the right product, for the right needs of countries.
“Such was the case in Nigeria where the Bank helped to provide $600 million of budget support that helped it get out of recession, a tough time for Nigeria. The Bank also provided $500 million to establish the Development Bank of Nigeria. Last week, we provided $280 million to support social investments in Côte d’Ivoire, just as we provided $230 million for support towards stabilizing livelihoods in the northeast of Nigeria,” he said.
He also disclosed that at the bank’s second African Investment Forum in November 2019, it invested along with its partners $2.6 billion for the development of Accra Sky Train and spent another $251 million on Lagos Cable Car Transit System projects.
The AfDB boss, who said the bank had spent $1.5 billion for the development of major transport corridors to improve inter-connectivity in the ECOWAS sub-region, noted that it had invested $546 million in power interconnection for The Gambia River Basin area (OMVG).
He said the bank was also “supporting the power interconnection to link Guinea and Mali,” adding that it was also supporting what he described as interconnection to link Nigeria, Niger, Benin, and Burkina Faso,” assuring the leaders of the delivery of Lagos – Abidjan highway.
“The Lagos-Abidjan Highway will become a reality. It has to! The President of the ECOWAS Commission, my dear brother Jean Claude is from Côte d’Ivoire and I, President of the African Development Bank, I am from Nigeria! You can be sure President Buhari will not let him sleep from this end in Abuja and President Ouattara will not let me sleep at the other end in Abidjan,” he stated.
The former Nigerian Minister of Agriculture noted that the bank was building and strengthening the West Africa Power Pool, which he described as “a critical part of ECOWAS master plan for development of the regional power generation and transmission infrastructure.”
In line with these investments, he said the electricity grids of 14 ECOWAS countries was expected to be connected next year, adding that the bank had also launched $20 billion power generating initiative with the aim of creating 10,000 megawatts of electricity, from solar for some countries.
He said no fewer than 250 million people would benefit from this initiative, disclosing also that when it’s completed, it would be the world’s largest solar zone
“The African Development Bank launched this year the $20 billion Desert to Power initiative to develop 10,000 MW of power from solar, for the Sahelian countries. This will provide electricity for 250 million people, with 90 million being from off grid solar systems. It will be the world’s largest solar zone,” he added.
Buhari, who decried the unabated terrorism attacks in the region, lamented the gruesome murder of 33 soldiers along with citizens in Niger Republic last week and expressed his sympathy with the families of the victims of the tragedy.
“Terrorrism remains the major threat to the peace and progress of our region. Recurring attempts by terrorist groups remind us of the urgency to build an enduring security partnership to confront and defeat the evil of cross-border terrorism.
“It was with great shock and immense pain that I received the news of the tragedy last week in the Tilabari Region of Niger Republic, where over 33 valiant soldiers and other citizens of the country were brutally massacred in yet another cowardly terrorist attack by these enemies of peace and progress.
“As we mourn this enormous loss, our thoughts and sympathies go to the families of these heroes and the entire people of Niger Republic. In solidarity with our Nigerien brothers and sisters, may we now all rise to observe a minute silence and pray for the departed souls,” he said.
Buhari pledged Nigeria’s commitment to regional integration and advocated the need for leaders of the region to deploy their energy towards evolving new strategies aimed at achieving the aspiration of the region for peace, security and growth,
“Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, let me now restate Nigeria’s commitment to regional integration and stress the need to always channel our energies towards realising new strategies and initiatives, which will accelerate the attainment of our regional aspirations for sustainable peace, security, stability and inclusive economic growth,” he added.