Adesina Starts Second Term, Recommits to Africa’s Growth

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Akinwumi Adesina

•Outlines achievements, agenda
•Again, Buhari, Jonathan hail AfDB president

Dike Onwuamaeze and Nume Ekeghe

President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, began his second term in the multilateral development bank yesterday with a recap on the organisation’s achievements under his watch and an outline of his agenda for the next five years.
Adesina, in his speech at his inauguration in Abidjan, said the bank under his leadership attracted $78.8 billion worth of investments to Africa in two years.

He pledged to focus on building a stronger institution, strengthening human capacity, enhancing the bank’s effectiveness as well as maintaining financial sustainability before the end of his second term.

President Muhammadu Buhari and his predecessor, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, in their goodwill messages, congratulated Adesina, Nigeria’s former Minister of Agriculture, and urged him to bring to a quick conclusion the programmes he initiated in his first term.
According to Adesina, “With the strong support of the African heads of state and governments, governors of the bank, ministers of finance, the board of directors and staff, we will be ready from today, yet again, to roll up our sleeves and continue our collective work to deliver even greater results.

“The future beckons us for a more developed Africa and a much stronger and resilient AfDB. In our time, Africa must shine like the brightness of the sun. Together…united, we will achieve this. Because together — we are stronger; together — we achieve more; together — we become resilient; together — we build a better bank; together — we win for Africa!”
Adesina thanked the board of governors of the bank, African finance ministers and all stakeholders for re-electing him, saying: “And for this, I am exceedingly grateful. What honour! What confidence! And what affirmation! I stand today with all humility as the president elected by all. I will be the president for all.”

He stated that Africa’s recovery from the devastations of the COVID-19 would be long and challenging and assured the continent that the bank would help it to build back in a bold and smart manner by paying greater attention to quality growth, especially in the areas of health, youth entrepreneurship, climate and the environment.

“As we look to the future and working with the board of directors, the bank will pay increased attention to supporting Africa with quality healthcare infrastructure and building on its comparative advantage in infrastructure.
“The bank’s infrastructure work will focus on economic infrastructure, quality physical infrastructure and quality health infrastructure.

“COVID-19 opens up new opportunities and a greater sense of urgency to build up Africa’s manufacturing capacity, industrial development and critically needed industrial value chains that must be supported by enabling infrastructure and policies.

“Special attention will be given to regional industrial value chains and the strengthening of financial markets in order to expand intra-regional trade and competitiveness, and boost the Africa Continental Free Trade Area,” he added.
Adesina also promised that the bank would play a greater role in harnessing Africa’s youth potential for the development of the continent.

“In this regard, the bank will support the establishment of Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Banks that will help to mobilise and deploy capital to drive the entrepreneurship of the youth of Africa in ways that are systemic, scalable and sustainable.
“The shadows of youth unemployment and migration out of Africa must give way to a glowing light of successful youth-driven businesses across Africa. Africa’s youth must stay in Africa, develop Africa and project Africa’s future,” he stated.

He said the High 5s programme he led the bank to launch when he was first elected in 2015, has taken hold on the continent and become the keys for accelerating Africa’s development.
He added that the impact has been attested to by the UNDP that “achieving the High 5s would lead to the achievement of 90 per cent of the SDGs and the Agenda 2063 of the African Union.”

Adesina enumerated the achievements of the High 5s to include providing 18 million people with access to electricity, while 141 million people had access to improved agricultural technologies for food security; 15 million people with access to finance from private investments; 101 million people with access to improved transport from infrastructure; 60 million people with access to water and sanitation.

According to him, the bank has “achieved impressive results. The bank’s High5 programmes have impacted 335 million people. Our non-sovereign operations for the private sector increased by 40 per cent from $1.5 billion in 2015 to $ 2.1 billion in 2019, with the highest level of $ 2.5 billion achieved in 2016.

“We have been accountable for the climate since COP 21 in Paris. The bank’s climate financing expanded from nine per cent when you elected me in 2015 to 36 per cent by 2019 – an increase of 400 per cent. We’ve now targeted to reach $25 billion in climate finance by 2021.

“Through the innovative and groundbreaking Africa Investment Forum in 2018 and 2019, we were able to attract a combined $78.8 billion worth of investment interests into Africa
“In every country, the bank’s impacts are felt. We expanded our presence to 44 countries, including across fragile states. Our staff risked their lives to deliver. And we are delivering more for women with the implementation of the Affirmative Finance Action for Women (AFAWA), to leverage $3 billion for women and women businesses.

“We have launched a Gender Equality Trust Fund, the first-ever in the bank, and are advancing on gender markers for all projects of the bank. We must continue to strongly support women. When women win, Africa wins!
“The African Development Fund has also been rated as the second-best managed concessional financing institution globally. “Over the past five years, we have maintained our AAA rating by all three major rating agencies — thanks to your continued extraordinary support as shareholders.

“The Multilateral Organisation Performance Assessment Network, otherwise known as MOPAN, ranked the African Development Bank as number one along with the World Bank.”
Other milestones of the bank in the past five years include its response to the COVID-19 shocks with $10 billion facility to African countries to contain fiscal meltdowns.
Adesina said: “We launched a $3 billion social bond on the global market – the largest US dollar-denominated social bond ever in world history.

“These actions reflect our ambitions, our unshaken commitment and unyielding responsibility to support, stabilise and strengthen African economies.”
In her goodwill message, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, conveyed Buhari’s congratulations and those of Nigerians to Adesina on his re-election.

Ahmed said: “We are proud of you, and we salute your passion for the bank and for Africa. The unanimity of the vote is a clear indication of the support of the entire membership of the AfDB for your leadership and programme.”
She advised Adesina to bring to quick conclusion programmes he initiated in his first term in order to accelerate the achievement of the High-5s, “and I am confident that this will be done.”

“Our journey to this point has been a long and arduous one, with twists and turns, but we managed to navigate our way to a safe harbour, guided by the golden compass of our common commitment to a strong bank and the well-being of the people of Africa. I appreciate the hard work, cooperation and sincerity of all governors in tackling the challenges that faced the bank in the lead-up to the annual meetings and the election of the president.

“I believe that, whatever position we may have taken individually on the various issues that arose throughout this period, everyone had the best interest of the bank at heart. I am sure the bank has taken the relevant lessons from the recent experience — and will work to strengthen the institution from this experience.

“I therefore use this opportunity to appeal to all stakeholders, member-countries, the board of directors, senior management and staff to join hands to push the bank to greater heights of achievement, delivery and efficiency in the interest of Africa,” she added.

Speaking during the swearing-in ceremony, the Chairman of the Board of Governors of AfDB, Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta, who is also the Finance Minister of Ghana, said AfDB under the leadership of Adesina had been integral to the spurt of economic growth on the sub-region in recent years.

He said: “The reorganisation of management and the restructuring of the bank’s operations around the High 5s, which represent a response to Africa’s more critical development need were indicative of your ability to foresee and design appropriate solutions for the times.”

Jonathan also congratulated Adesina for the achievements recorded in his first term and his re-election.
Jonathan said: “Adesina worked with me as my Minister for Agriculture and Natural Resources and I know what he is made of and I believe he would not disappoint the shareholders.”