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AfDB boss garners strong global support for Africa

Akinwumi Adesina, African Development Bank

Dr Akinwumi Adesina, the president of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), concluded a three-day official visit to Washington, DC on Saturday.

Taking place alongside the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, the visit included several bilateral engagements with stakeholders on African development.

Adesina garnered broad strong support for a robust 16th replenishment of the African Development Fund, the Bank Group’s concessionary lending arm that supports Africa’s low-income economies. Replenishment efforts continue through October, when partners are expected to make good their pledges.

During bilateral meetings, the United States assistant Treasury secretary Alexia Latortue said the African Development Fund is critical to Africa’s the development landscape.

She assured the AfDB president that the US remains a strong and proud supporter of the Fund, which has strategic focus and delivers impact.

High impact

Latortue applauded Adesina’s leadership in developing the Bank’s bold African emergency food production plan to avert the looming food crisis caused by the Russian war in Ukraine and assured him of the strong partnership of the US Treasury Department on the plan.

Dr Adesina received similar strong support for the African Development Fund replenishment from other partners, including Matilda Ernkrans, Sweden’s international development co-operation minister, Anne Beathe Tvinnereim, Norway’s minister for international development, Vicky Ford, the United Kingdom’s minister for Africa, and Paul Ryan, director of international finance and climate in Ireland.

They gave their strong support for the African Development Fund to be allowed to go to the market to leverage its equity and raise more financing for low-income and fragile states.

Adesina affirmed to shareholders that the African Development Fund’s impact on Africa, through their support, was massive and far reaching.

According to Minister Ernkrans of Sweden, “The African Development Bank is doing incredible work and we strongly support the Bank. Sweden supports the African Development Fund to leverage its resources from the market to put [up] more resources for countries. You are doing an excellent job.”

Ramping up agriculture

Meeting with the African Union’s Group of 15 finance ministers, Adesina outlined the continent’s immediate challenges and the solutions that are being applied to tackle them.

Top of his list was a plan for food production in the face of a looming global food crisis caused by the Russian war in Ukraine, and the need for a more flexible and substantial replenishment of the African Development Fund.

The ministers agreed to a joint communiqué on financing Africa’s economic resilience in turbulent times. They called for a substantial replenishment of the African Development Fund and for the Fund to be allowed to use its equity to leverage more resources on the international capital markets to meet the rapidly growing needs of countries in Africa.

Adesina highlighted the Bank’s innovative Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT), a programme operating across nine food commodities in more than 30 African countries.

He said the Bank will mitigate the effects of the food crisis through an African Food Crisis Response and Emergency Facility – a dedicated facility that will provide African countries with resources needed to raise local food production and procure fertiliser.

According to Adesina, a fertiliser crisis born out of the Russian war in Ukraine could put more than US$10 billion of food production at risk. He said a Bank-initiated meeting of key global development, finance, public and private sector leaders is scheduled for mid-May to tackle the access to fertilisers for Africa.

Focus on nutrition

Adesina was received at the White House by Dana Banks, special assistant to President Joseph Biden of the US and senior director for Africa at the White House.

Banks argued that it is important to mitigate the spillover of the Russian war in Ukraine on food security in Africa, and strongly welcomed the leadership of the African Development Bank in its emergency food production plan for Africa.

Adesina also met with Melinda French Gates, the co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. French Gates said it is important for Africa to feed itself and focus on nutrition. She expressed her firm support for the bold African emergency food production plan developed by the African Development Bank and called for a healthy replenishment of the African Development Fund.

“I will be your strong advocate for G7 countries to do more for the African Development Fund and to put in more resources for Africa,” French Gates said.

A meeting of heads of regional multilateral development banks was held to discuss, among other things, the impact the Russian war in Ukraine is having on development across the world.

The AfDB chief spoke about its direct impact on food and fertiliser supplies in Africa. He also emphasised the Bank’s climate change collaboration with the Global Center on Adaptation, as well as the AfDB’s record-breaking 83% investment portfolio in renewable energy.

Adesina and many multilateral development bank heads agreed there was a need for a common voice on the rechannelling of the International Monetary Fund’s special drawing rights.

He also spoke about the importance of indigenous vaccine production in Africa, and progress being made on the proposed establishment of an African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation.

During an engagement at the Atlantic Council earlier in the week, Adesina fielded questions from Ambassador Rama Yade (the Council’s Africa Centre chair) and others, giving a broad perspective on Africa’s challenges and the steps being taken to address them by African countries, with the support of the African Development Bank Group.

He called for greater resource mobilisation in Africa. In his words, “I do not believe in begging. Africa should develop more using its own resources.”

The Bank Group chief invited his various interlocutors to the African Development Bank Group annual meetings taking place from 23-27 May in Accra, Ghana.

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