Let’s change the discourse on Africa in the United States, ”says African Development Bank president to African diplomats in Washington
African Development Bank President Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina said a concerted effort to change the discourse on Africa in the United States is needed to attract increased investment to the continent.
He said the need for advocacy in the United States made it important to establish an African Development Bank office in Washington, and that he would seek approval from the Bank Group Board of Directors. African development.
The head of the Bank spoke during a meeting with African ambassadors at the chancellery of the Embassy of the Republic of Congo in Washington last week.
“It is very important that the voice of Africa is heard,” he said. We are a responsive and solutions bank at the heart of Africa’s development, and at the heart of our work as a multilateral development bank, there is a very clear strategy to monitor Africa’s development.
In a comprehensive overview of the Bank’s priority program, Dr Adesina acknowledged the leadership role of the Dean of the African Diplomatic Corps in Washington DC, Ambassador Serge Mombouli of the Republic of Congo, and the outstanding advocacy work of the Corps on behalf of the African continent. He also thanked the ambassadors for their strong support for his re-election for a second consecutive five-year term in 2020.
Speaking on the Bank’s main objectives, Dr Adesina drew the ambassadors’ attention to the UNDP assessment, which showed that if Africa had achieved the Bank’s 5 priorities, it would have reached 90% of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. .
Large-scale promising results
Over the past five years, the Bank, through its High 5s, has had a positive impact on the lives of 335 million people; 21 million people gained access to electricity; 76 million to agricultural technologies to ensure food security, and 12 million people gained access to finance through recipient companies in which the Bank itself has invested.
“This is the kind of scale that we are working on,” said Dr Adesina, explaining that the desired level of development will not occur through small projects but through large-scale projects.
Dr Adesina denounced what he called “vaccine nationalism” on the part of developed countries and said Africa must learn crucial lessons.
“Africa cannot, and Africa must not, outsource the health security of its 1.3 billion people to the generosity and benevolence of others. Africa must ensure the health security of its people, and I will say that we must look at health, from the point of view of a defense health system. “
Dr Adesina said Africa needs to develop its national capacity for manufacturing pharmaceuticals. He said this was important not only for Covid-19, but also for other viruses to come after Covid-19. As part of efforts to reorganize quality health infrastructure in Africa, the African Development Bank is investing $ 3 billion to support pharmaceutical and vaccine production on the continent.
The group learned that the Bank is leading efforts to help Africa tackle climate change; and that it had doubled its allocation for climate finance to $ 25 billion by 2025, with 40% of its total funding going to climate finance.
“We are increasingly applying our resources to climate adaptation,” said Dr Adesina. “Today, 67% of all our climate finance is spent on adaptation, which is the highest of any international financial institution in the world.”
Dr Adesina also referred to the Bank’s collaboration with the Global Adaptation Center to mobilize $ 25 billion for climate adaptation in Africa and said the institution is tapping into the vast sources of solar, hydro, wind and geothermal power.
He highlighted the Desert to Power project, a $ 20 billion investment by the Bank and its partners to create the world’s largest solar zone in the Sahel. It will help develop 10,000 megawatts of electricity and provide electricity to 250 million people.
Infrastructure, investment opportunities
The Ambassadors were presented with several examples of Bank-financed infrastructure projects that were impacting development across the continent. The Bank has invested more than $ 40 billion in infrastructure, in close collaboration with the African Union’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development.
“The African Development Bank is the largest donor of infrastructure in Africa – far above the World Bank and far above any institution you can find,” Dr Adesina told his audience.
“Now is the time to change the investment discourse on Africa in the United States,” he said. “The African Development Bank is developing strategic alliances and partnerships, taking advantage of the new perspectives of the new US administration.
“We are working closely now that the United States Development Finance Corporation, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Corporate Council on Africa, the United States Trade Development Agency, USAID and, of course, the Department of Energy, PROSPER Africa and the US Exim Bank to launch a new collaborative approach to drive massive US capital investment to infrastructure in Africa. “
The President of the African Development Bank applauded the US Government’s Build Back Better World launched by President Biden. He urged the ambassadors as African diplomatic envoys to Washington to help make this initiative a huge success, describing it as a unique opportunity for Africa. “It is time to expand American investments in Africa on a large scale,” he said.
Dr Adesina called on ambassadors to support the 16th Replenishment of the African Development Fund, the Bank’s concessional lending window, which she uses to support low-income and fragile states. He said it was desirable for the African Development Fund to be authorized by donors to access the capital market, just as the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank Group had done.
“We have equity in the African Development Fund of $ 26 billion. But we can go into the capital market and raise an additional $ 33 billion that we can use to scale up support to African economies, especially countries. low income, ”Dr Adesina said at the press conference. ambassadors. “Your advocacy with donor countries, especially the US Treasury, and the mobilization of strong support in this regard is crucial. “
The recent $ 650 billion Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) issue by the IMF provided another unique opportunity to support countries in the future, said Dr Adesina.
Africa, the region least resourced to tackle the continuing effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, is expected to receive just $ 31 billion out of SDR 650 billion. Dr Adesina called for a reallocation of SDRs from developed countries to developing countries, and to Africa in particular. He congratulated French President Emmanuel Macron for his leadership by example by recently announcing France’s donation of 2% of its own SDR allocation to Africa.
In response to Dr Adesina’s presentation on behalf of the African Diplomatic Corps in Washington DC, Ambassador Mombouli commended the Bank for its work in the social and economic transformation of Africa, and Dr Adesina for his extraordinary leadership and visionary.
Amba Mpoke-Bigg | Communication and External Relations Department | African Development Bank | email: [email protected]