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Africa Must Think Big, Act Big and Deliver Big, Says the Continent’s Leading Banker


By Shola Adenekan


Monday, June 6, 2016.


Africa’s number one banker, has said the continent must have high ambitions in order to achieve its development objectives.

Addressing its yearly meeting in Lusaka, Zambia, the President of African Development Bank Group (AfDB) Akinwumi Adesina said that the Bank has raised its level of aspiration for Africa through its High 5 development priorities

In a gathering that included past and present heads-of-state as well as influential economists, businesses, politicians and various stakeholders, Adesina said that his organisation’s priorities are Light up and Power Africa; Feed Africa; Industrialize Africa; Integrate Africa; and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.

According to Adesina, the AfDB decided to focus on lighting up and powering Africa because the continent is the only region of the world where lack of electricity has become the norm. Over 645 million people lack access to electricity while 700 million do not have access to clean energy for cooking.

“The greatest hindrance to Africa’s growth and development is lack of electricity,” he said. “Africa is simply tired of being in the dark. Our goal is clear: universal access to energy for Africa within ten years. Expand grid power by 160 Giga-watts. Connect 130 million persons to grid power. Connect 75 million persons to off grid systems. And provide access to 150 million households to clean cooking energy.”

Adesina also shared ongoing corporate reforms in the Bank, encapsulated in a new business development and delivery model, which involves restructuring and operations decentralization within the continent’s five geopolitical zones in central, east, north, west and southern Africa.

It has also established new Vice-President Complexes on Power, Energy and Green Growth; Agriculture, Human and Social Development; and Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization to deliver the High 5 priorities in the various sectors.

“These landmark institutional reforms will make us faster, more efficient and effective in delivering greater developmental impacts all across Africa. We will drive a new performance contract system and culture of accountability for results all across the Bank,” he said.

Adesina also reflected on African economies, noting that they have remained resilient and are not unravelling as interpreted in some quarters. Africa must henceforth look inwards to tap resources for the development of a more inclusive continent.

Africa must develop with pride, he said, citing the case of Kevin Do, a youth from Sierra Leone who received sustained applause as well as “tears of sympathy and joy” from the audience when he was invited to the podium to share his ingenuity. At the age of 12, Kevin developed batteries and moved on to develop a generator for his village, using metal scraps. He was invited to MIT Innovations Lab and lectured students at Harvard and MIT to show off his ingenuity.

Adesina thanked the Bank’s member countries for their support despite the difficult global financial and economic headwinds and urged them to contribute generously to the 14th replenishment of the African Development Fund, the concessional arm of the Bank Group which comes up this year.

For his part, President Idriss Déby of Chad, the current President of the Africa Union, underscored the difficult challenges facing many Africa countries afflicted by climate change-induced drought, famine, and conflict, noting that African countries can overcome some of these challenges through coordinated concrete actions.

He commended the Bank’s High 5 priorities and expressed the hope that every Africa country would have a positive story to share on their benefits at the next Annual Meetings.

Host President Edgar Lungu of Zambia, who declared the Meetings open, commended the energy and climate change theme of the meetings, noting that the two issues have crystallized into a binding constraint to Africa’s growth.

He said that lessons learned from exchanges would help the countries, including Zambia, to find solutions to the economic and environmental challenges they face.

“Africa can lead the world on climate resilience and low carbon emissions if the necessary policies are put in place now,” he said.

More than 4,000 participants attended this year’s Annual Meetings. They include eminent persons such as Presidents Idriss Deby of Chad and Paul Kagame of Rwanda. Nigeria is represented by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo. Former Presidents John Kufuor of Ghana, Festus Mogae of Botswana, Horst Kohler of Germany, and Mary Robinson of Ireland, are also attending along with some Prime Ministers, and ministers representing their heads of state. Also in attendance are three former Bank Presidents – Babacar Ndiaye of Senegal, Omar Kabbaj of Morocco and Kwame Donkor Fordwor of Ghana.



Africa Must Think Big, Act Big and Deliver Big, Says the Continent’s Leading Banker

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