African Development Bank (AfDB) President Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina has called for concerted efforts to change the narrative on Africa in the United States so as to boost investments into the continent.
He said the need for advocacy in the United States made having an African Development Bank office in Washington a matter of importance, and that he would be pursuing approval with the Board of the African Development Bank Group.
Meeting with African ambassadors at the chancery of the Embassy of the Republic of Congo in Washington earlier this month, Dr Adesina said: “We are a responsive and solutions bank at the heart of Africa’s development, and at the core of our work as a multilateral development bank, there is a very clear strategy to fast-track Africa’s development.”
Speaking to the Bank’s core objectives, he drew the ambassadors’ attention to the UNDP’s assessment, which showed that if Africa achieved the Bank’s High 5 priorities, it would have achieved 90% of both the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The African Development Bank president told the ambassadors that there are promising results at scale
He explained that in the past five years, the Bank, through its High 5s, had positively impacted the lives of 335 million people and 21 million people had gained access to electricity, 76 million people to agricultural technologies to ensure their food security, and 12 million people had gained access to finance through the investee companies the Bank itself had invested in.
“This is the kind of scale on which we work,” Dr Adesina said.
The Bank chief said the Covid-19 pandemic had made the challenge of development tougher, he explained that AfDB , launched a $10 billion crisis response facility to provide fiscal support to countries.
Dr Adesina decried the vaccine nationalism by developed countries. He said Africa had only fully vaccinated 24 million people, a mere 2% of its population. “In Africa we have 4.4% of the population receiving one dose, and 1.8 % of the population receiving the second dose. Compare this to 70% in Europe and 56% right here in the United States, respectively.
“So, while developed countries are moving to booster shots, Africa is still struggling to just get basic shots,” he said.
Dr Adesina said the recent issuance of $650 billion special drawing rights (SDRs) by the IMF offered a unique opportunity to support countries going forward.
While Africa is the least resourced region to tackle the continual effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the continent only stands to receive $31 billion out of $650 billion in SDRs.
Dr Adesina advocated a reallocation of SDRs by developed countries to developing countries, and to Africa in particular.
On trade, Dr Adesina said the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) represented a huge opportunity to transform Africa with a combined GDP of $3.3 trillion, the largest free trade zone in the world.
“Africa is no longer a continent that can be ignored. And if you are not investing in Africa, the question I would ask is: where in the world are you investing?” he said.
Dr Adesina said Africa’s massive infrastructure needs presented viable economic investment opportunities for institutional investors in Africa and those from the United States.
“This is the time to change the investment narrative on Africa in the United States,” he stressed.
“The African Development Bank is developing strategic alliances and partnerships, taking advantage of the new outlook of new US administration.
“We are working closely now that the US 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 approach of working together to massively direct US capital investments to infrastructure in Africa,” he said.
The African Development Bank president applauded the US government’s Build Back Better World launched by President Biden.
“It is time to expand US investments in Africa at scale,” he stressed.
The group said they were engaging with the new administration in Washington and found that there was a new mood in Washington – an interest in doing business with Africa.
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