•Says continent needs $110bn for food import by 2025
The President of African Development Bank (AfDB) Group, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, yesterday stated that Africa lacks the accountability and transparency needed to manage her natural resources, noting that if the continent continues mismanaging its resources, it would remain stuck in poverty.
He added that if Africa manages its natural resources well, the continent has no reason to be poor, stating that Africa has $6.2 trillion in natural resources.
“So, how in the world are we still poor? We simply need to pull up our socks, stamp out corruption, and manage our resources in the interest of our countries and our people,” he added.
Adesina, who spoke in Lagos, at the 40th Anniversary of The Guardian Newspapers, with the theme: ‘For the World to Respect Africa’ said African would gain respect when it is able to feed herself, insisting that any nation or region that begs for food is free only in words, but dependent on others for life.
He also stated that feeding 9.5 billion people in the world by 2050 would be a challenge, given climate change and the limited amount of arable land in many countries, including developed countries.
He stressed that Africa would play a critical role in this as the continent has 65 per cent of all the uncultivated arable land left in the world.
Adesina expressed displeasure that despite the abundant arable land on the continent, Africa has not been able to feed itself, noting that Africa’s food import bill hit $85 billion in 2012, and is expected to surpass $110 billion by 2025, with 283 million people going hungry every year.
The AfDB President said the bank had invested over $8 billion in agriculture over the past seven years which has improved food security for 250 million people.
He revealed that the bank rapidly approved a $1.5 billion emergency food production facility for African countries, pointing out that the facility is supporting 20 million farmers in 36 countries.
According to him, this has helped to produce 38 million tons of food valued at $12 billion, which is 8 million metric tons above the 30 million metric tons of food Africa was losing from imports from Russia and Ukraine.
He disclosed that to gain respect globally, Africa must turn itself into a global powerhouse in food and agriculture, which he noted is the reason why the bank and its partners have provided $1.6 billion for the development of Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones to support private sector processing.
He averred that the newly launched $3 billion Alliance for Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones would support the development of the zones in 11 more countries.
The AfDB president remarked that Africa accounts for just 3 per cent of global manufacturing, and that industrialising is the fastest way to wealth.
He urged the federal government to unleash an industrial revolution on the continent, stressing the day Nigeria wakes up, everything would change for its people and for Africa.
He hinted that in Nigeria, 98 per cent of government revenue is used to service debt.
“We have invested $210 million in the development of the transmission lines for Nigeria and plan to support a 1,000 MW solar power plant in Jigawa, as well as Nigeria’s first public-private partnership power transmission lines in Lagos State.
“In Nigeria, the AfDB, Islamic Development Bank, and the French Development Agency jointly provided $614 million in financing for the I-DICE programme (Digital Innovation and Creative Enterprises). The initiative will support hundreds of digital small and medium-sized enterprise and creative enterprises, create 6 million jobs, and add $6.4 billion to Nigeria’s GDP.
“Africa must turn the sweat of its farmers into wealth. Africa will gain respect when it takes advantage of its vast natural resources to develop its economies and to transform the lives of the people.
“What applies to agriculture also applies to Africa’s minerals, oil, gas and metals, such as copper, cobalt, manganese, graphite and lithium. Africa accounts for 70 per cent of the global reserves of platinum, 52 per cent of cobalt and 48 per cent of manganese,” he added.