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African Presidents and Global Leaders Support Bold Action On Climate Change Adaptation For Africa.
April 7, 2021 | 0 Comments
Africa now faces the dual onslaught of climate change – currently estimated at between $7 billion and $15 billion each year – and Covid-19, which has claimed 114,000 lives




In a historic and united show of solidarity for a continent that contributes only 5% to global emissions, more than 30 heads of state and global leaders committed to prioritize actions that help African countries adapt to the impacts of climate change and “build forward better.”

Africa now faces the dual onslaught of climate change – currently estimated at between $7 billion and $15 billion each year – and Covid-19, which has claimed 114,000 lives. The African Development Bank expects that the impact of climate change on the continent could rise to $50 billion each year by 2040, with a further 3% decline each year in GDP by 2050.

Speaking Tuesday, during a virtual Leaders’ Dialogue convened by the African Development Bank , the Global Center on Adaptation and the Africa Adaptation Initiative, more than 30 heads of state and global leaders rallied behind the bold new Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program . The program’s objective is to mobilize $25 billion to accelerate climate change adaptation actions across Africa.

President Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and African Union Chairperson, invited his fellow leaders to: “revisit our climate ambitions and accelerate the implementation of our actions planned under our national priorities. To do this we will need to focus on actions to adapt to the impacts of climate change, these include nature-based solutions, energy transition, enhanced transparency framework, technology transfer and climate finance.”

The Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program is built to address the impacts of Covid-19, climate change, and the continent’s worst recession in 25 years. This is why today’s unprecedented show of support for the financing of African adaptation is so significant.

According to Ban Ki-moon, the 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Chair of the Global Center on Adaptation, “The Covid-19 pandemic is eroding recent progress in building climate resilience and leaving countries and communities more vulnerable to future shocks. Africa must make up for lost ground and lost time. Climate change did not stop because of Covid-19, and neither should the urgent task of preparing humanity to live with the multiple effects of a warming planet.”

President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon, and Chair of the African Union-led Africa Adaptation Initiative, spoke of Gabon’s record in emission reductions. He said that Gabon is one of the few countries in the world that is carbon positive. “We have to insist that equal attention be paid to climate adaptation and mitigation in climate finance. Africa calls on the developed nations to shoulder the historic responsibility and to join the program to accelerate the adaptation in Africa,” President Bongo said.

African Development Bank President Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina said: “With our partners, we intend to mobilize $25 billion in financing for the success of the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program. It is time for developed countries to meet their promise of providing $100 billion annually for climate finance. And a greater share of this should go to climate adaptation. So far, more than 20 trillion dollars have gone into Covid-19 stimulus packages in developed countries. The International Monetary Fund’s plan to issue $650 billion of new Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) to boost global reserves and liquidity will be enormously helpful to support green growth and climate financing for economic recoveryI applaud the leadership of the US government and US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, especially, on this big push.”

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said: “African nations are showing leadership…The Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program, and many other ambitious African initiatives, must be empowered to fully deliver on their goals. “

Guterres added: “Universal access to energy in Africa, a priority in the coming years, could be provided primarily through renewable energy. I call for a comprehensive package of support to meet these dual objectives by COP 26. It is achievable, it is necessary, it is overdue, and it is smart.”

Speaking on behalf of US President Joseph R. Biden, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said: “The United States remains a committed development partner for Africa and a huge supporter of the African Development Bank. Africa contributed the least to climate change but is suffering the worst of its effects. I congratulate the African Development Bank and the Global Center for Adaptation for developing the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program. We support the program… to help ensure that together, we can avoid the worst effects of climate change.”

The Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program, as launched by the African Development Bank and the Global Center on Adaptation, revolves around several transformative initiatives:

Climate Smart Digital Technologies for Agriculture and Food Security aims to scale up access to climate-smart digital technologies for at least 30 million farmers in Africa. The African Infrastructure Resilience Accelerator will scale up investment for climate-resilient urban and rural infrastructure in key sectors. These include water, transport, energy, and waste management for a circular economy. Empowering Youth for Entrepreneurship and Job Creation in Climate Resilience will provide one million youths with skills for climate adaptation and support 10,000 small and medium size youth-led businesses to create green jobs.  Innovative Financial Initiatives for Africa will help close adaptation finance gaps, enhance access to existing finance and mobilize new public and private sector investment.

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said: “As well as facing the health and economic crisis caused by the pandemic, countries in Africa are among the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Tackling this dual challenge requires putting adaptation at the heart of Africa’s recovery – so countries build resilience to climate change and spur economic activity. This pandemic has shown us the importance of investing in people. And that is so, so very valuable for Africa, which has a fast-growing young population. This begins by improving education, healthcare, and food security, and in that context, I warmly welcome the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program.”

Speaking on behalf of French President Emmanuel Macron, the Chief Executive of the French Development Agency, Remy Rioux said: “Africa is providing solutions to climate change, including the Great Green Wall and the Desert to Power initiative of the African Development Bank to build the world’s largest solar zone in the Sahel of Africa. France fully supports the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program.”

Moderating the Leaders’ Dialogue, Dr. Patrick Verkooijen, CEO of the Global Center on Adaptation, said: “Africa has a unique opportunity to advance its development exponentially if it invests now in a climate-smart adapted future based on a deep understanding of climate risks and solutions that put nature and people at the center.”

Read the Global Call to Action here

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AfCFTA: Free trade bloc can be a game changer for African people and business
March 29, 2021 | 0 Comments

Exploring strategies to deepen private sector participation in the implementation African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) was the highlight of a panel session during the 2021 WTO Aid-for-Trade Stocktaking meeting.

The African Development Bank, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and International Trade Centre (ITC) organized the session held on Wednesday 24 March.

“The success of the AfCFTA hinges on the ability of African firms to understand and capitalize on the trade related opportunities offered by the AfCFTA,” said Pamela Coke-Hamilton, International Trade Centre (ITC) Executive Director.

The Aid-for-Trade initiative – which promotes the role of trade in development and supports building productive capacities– should focus on three priorities to boost the private sector’s role in AfCFTA: empowering businesses with skills and know-how; fostering multi-stakeholder partnerships to attract investment for greater value addition and enhancing market connections using e-commerce and digital platforms, Coke-Hamilton said. 

Also participating were: Mr. Alan Kyerematen, Ghana Minister of Trade and Industry; Mr. Li Yong, Director-General of UNIDO; Mr. Solomon Quaynor, African Development Bank Vice President, Industry, Infrastructure, Private Sector and Trade; Ms. Tania Rödiger-Vorwerk, Director, Private Sector, Trade, Employment and Digital Technologies in Germany’s Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development; Ms. Glwadys Tawema, CEO of Benin firm, Karethic; Mr. Emmanouil Davradakis, Senior Economist, European Investment Bank; Mr. Paul Walters, Director for Trade & Development, UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and Mr. Michael Kottoh, Head of Strategy & Research, AfroChampions.

“This is a trade area of the people, so we need to understand and engage the people to go forward and believe in this dream of an African free trade area,” said Ambassador Usha Dwarka-Canabady, Permanent Representative of Mauritius at the United Nations Office at Geneva and coordinator of the African Group at the World Trade Organization, who moderated.

Discussion focused on boosting  private sector involvement in policy dialogues on trade, investment and infrastructure, strategies to increase participation by micro, small and medium enterprises, and the need for greater partnerships to attract investment in promising industries.

 Kyerematen proposed that bridging information gaps between governments and the private sector would help build confidence around the free trade agreement and noted that fiscal incentives, including subsidies, might be needed in some instances.

Li emphasized the private sector’s role in speeding up industrial development and economic diversification, particularly in the context of the ongoing pandemic and other development challenges.   “The private sector accounts for 80% of total production, two thirds of investment, three-quarters of credit and employs 90% of the working age population.” He also noted “several determining factors, including an enabling business environment, affordable connectivity, accelerated digitalization and opportunities to forge strong public-private partnerships” as crucial to ensuring businesses’ commitment to trade and invest in the AfCFTA.

The African Development Bank, UNIDO and the ITC have each engaged with the private sector at the continental, regional and sub-national level to facilitate the African business community’s access to the new single market, said Vice-President Quaynor.

The African Development Bank is actively supporting or looking to support initiatives to boost trade and improve livelihoods for Africans, Quaynor said, citing the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange as a model to  be replicated across Africa, referring to the commodities exchange established in 2008 that is transforming the country’s agricultural trade.

“African farmers receive only 20-25% of the final price of their market produce, compared to the 70-85% that Asian farmers receive.”

Quaynor also named AfroChampions, a public-private partnership designed to accelerate economic integration and support the emergence of African multi-nationals, as an initiative that is making an impact.

The meeting comes in the wake of the entry into force of the AfCFTA on 1 January 2021. The free trade area  brings together 1.3 billion Africans in a $3.4 trillion economic bloc. The bloc is the largest free trade area since the establishment of the World Trade Organization, and economists project that its benefits and impacts could lift tens of millions out of poverty over the next 15 years.

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Women-led Kenyan design house wins Fashionomics Africa sustainable design competition for turning fruit waste into eco-friendly footwear
March 29, 2021 | 0 Comments

The African Development Bank’s Fashionomics Africa initiative has named a women-led Kenya shoe design house as the winner of its competition to support producers of sustainable fashion.

Pine Kazi, which converts pineapple leaf and recycled rubber into fashionable footwear, won the $2,000 Fashionomics Africa competition cash prize. In addition, the business will have the opportunity to showcase its creation in online events, share insights on key sustainability challenges facing the industry and receive a certificate.

The brand, co-founded by Olivia Okinyi, Angela Musyoka and Mike Langa, will also have access to media opportunities and receive mentoring and networking opportunities from competition collaborators.

“Pine Kazi is greatly humbled to be the winners of the first Fashionomics Africa contest in Africa. This is indeed an honour to the Kenyan people and the African continent at large,” said Okinyi.

Musyoka added: “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage and the patience to pursue them.”

Competition judges said Pine Kazi’s shoes are innovative and sustainable. The upper of the shoe is made from pineapple textile, while the inside is lined with organic cotton. The sole is made from sisal plant fiber, fitted with recycled tyre underneath.

The Fashionomics Africa contest honours African fashion brands working to change how fashion is produced, bought, used and recycled, to encourage more sustainable consumer behaviour. A panel of four judges representing the Bank and competition collaborators – the United Nations Environment Program, the Parsons School of Design and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation – reviewed 110 entries from 24 African countries and selected three finalists: Pine Kazi; CiiE Luxuries, an eco-friendly accessories business based in Abuja, Nigeria; and clothing brand Labake Lagos.

“We were pleasantly surprised by all the applications received for the first edition of our Fashionomics Africa competition. It was very difficult to make a choice, but the finalists stood out with their innovative, durable and contemporary designs,” said Emanuela Gregorio, coordinator of the Fashionomics Africa initiative at the African Development Bank.

Of the applications, 65% were submitted by women and the businesses were predominantly micro-enterprises (54%), solo entrepreneurs (35%) and small businesses (12%).

“What we learned from this Fashionomics Africa contest, in this month celebrating women around the world, is that many women entrepreneurs are advocating for sustainable production and consumption, and we commend their efforts,” said Amel Hamza, Division Manager at the Bank’s Gender, Women and Civil Society Department.

An online public vote by 986 participants determined the winner: Pine Kazi got 400 votes, 318 votes went to CiiE Luxuries, and 268 to Labake Lagos.

Competition judge and a Program Director at New York-based Parsons School of Design, Brendan McCarthy, congratulated Pine Kazi during the competition winners’ announcement last Friday: “You transformed waste materials from pineapples into profound new textiles and absolutely beautiful new shoes,” he said.

The shoes are 100% handmade to reduce carbon footprint and can last three years, Pine Kazi says.

Okinyi wrote in Pine Kazi’s competition entry that if they won, they would invest half the winnings in machinery used to make shoe source materials. “[This machinery] will see pineapple leaf waste put to work and create more green jobs for unemployed youth,” she added.

The design house said resources would also be divided equally between research and development of natural dyes, the acquisition of professional stylists and the establishment of a centralized production system.

To learn more about the Fashionomics Africa online competition, click here.

Fashionomics Africa is an initiative of the African Development Bank to increase Africa’s participation in the global textile and fashion industry value chains – with an emphasis on women and youth.

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Canada and African Development Bank sign CAD 133 million gender lens Climate Fund for Africa
March 25, 2021 | 0 Comments

The Government of Canada and the African Development Bank  have signed an agreement formalizing the Canada–African Development Bank Climate Fund (CACF), a transformative special fund aimed at providing concessional loans to climate change-related projects with a strong gender-responsive component.

The fund will be capitalized through a combination of a CAD 122.9 million ($104.8 million)) repayable contribution, aimed at providing concessional loans for both sovereign and non-sovereign operations plus a CAD 10 million grant contribution for complementary technical assistance. The African Development Bank will administer the fund.

Speaking at a virtual signing ceremony to conclude the agreement, held 17 March on the sidelines of the Canada-Africa Clean Growth Symposium, Canada’s Minister of International Development, the Hon. Karina Gould, said the investment, with its strong gender footprint, recognized “the critical role that women need to play in climate action, and supports their efforts to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change.”

“Climate change is one of the most important challenges of our time…And, although we are all affected by it, we in Canada know that not everyone is affected equally…that means that vulnerable and marginalized people are bearing the brunt of this crisis.”

As a concessional facility, CACF resources will be deployed in innovative low-carbon technologies, renewable energy, climate-smart agriculture, sustainable forestry, water management, and climate-resilience projects.  The fund will finance climate change related projects in the African Development Bank’s regional member countries, including those that demonstrate a strong gender equality focus. The empowerment of women and girls will be an objective across all concessional financing of the CACF, aiming at direct, measurable gender equality outcomes.

“In building back Africa, climate resilience is very important… This is why I’m delighted and thrilled with the Canada-African Development Bank Climate Fund that we are launching today,” African Development Bank President Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina said in remarks after the announcement.

He thanked Canada for its “tremendous” support to the Bank in terms of general capital increases, temporary callable capital, and the support that Canada has given to Africa through the Bank.

“These resources that you are making available, it’s very unique, in helping us with adaptation. First, it is long-term financing. It will provide long-term capital to the private sector and to the public sector. It also provides it at affordable levels for countries…What I like most about it is that it looks at multi-sectoral use of this financing…all these things are very important to support Africa in climate adaptation and mitigation,” Adesina said. “Canada has always been there for Africa…Canada is a great friend of Africa.”

The African Development Bank’s financing for climate has increased fourfold from 9% of its total portfolio in 2016, to 36% by 2019, and is on track to achieve its target of 40% of total portfolio by the end of 2021. The Bank has committed to providing $25 billion in climate financing by 2025.

The Canada-Africa Clean Growth Symposium, co-hosted by Canada, Ethiopia and Senegal, brings together economic and business leaders from the public and private sectors from Canada and sub-Saharan Africa to explore innovative ways to grow their economies, while reducing emissions and building resilience to climate change.

The sessions focused on a blueprint for a green economy, incorporating socioeconomic development, while ensuring sustainable management of natural resources, minimizing waste and pollution, and following climate-resilient and low-carbon development pathways.

The symposium also included a trade policy discussion on environmental considerations in international trade and the promotion of rules-based trade.

Canada, one of the African Development Bank Group’s key non-regional members, has participated in all the Group’s capital increases. This includes its 7th General Capital Increase, the replenishments of the African Development Fund, including the 15th replenishment of the Fund (ADF-15), with a 7.5% increase in African Development Bank Units of Account (UA) terms. It has also contributed to numerous trust funds and initiatives managed by the Bank Group.

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Uganda: African Development Bank signs $229.5 million financing agreement for the Kampala-Jinja Expressway Project
March 25, 2021 | 0 Comments

The Kampala-Jinja Expressway Project will cut travel time and boost trade along an important artery linking Uganda with its neighbors.

The African Development Bank (AfDB.org) and the Government of Uganda on Tuesday signed a $229.5 million financing agreement for the first phase of the Kampala-Jinja Expressway Project, which will cut travel time and boost trade along an important artery linking Uganda with its neighbors.

The Kampala-Jinja Expressway Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Project-Phase I would improve travel flow, thereby “reducing travel time from more than three hours to under one hour” between Jinja and Kampala along the northern corridor linking Uganda to neighbors Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Kenya, said Matia Kasaija, Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development.

Minister Kasaija, who signed the accord on behalf of the government, noted that the African Development Bank was the second-largest multilateral donor to Uganda, contributing 20% of the country’s development assistance in the areas of roads, energy, agriculture, education, health and sanitation.

He said the Kampala-Jinja road was a major gateway for all imports and exports into and out of Uganda and its successful implementation would spur trade volumes and economic growth in Uganda and among its neighbors.

The Bank’s Country Manager for Uganda, Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan, who signed on behalf of the Bank, said the agreement demonstrates the Bank’s commitment to supporting Uganda’s development and enhancing the well-being of its people.

“The Public-Private Partnership model will bring in private sector participation and financing of a key infrastructure in Uganda and will yield a significant economic return for the country with an estimated net revenue of $2.1 billion over the 30-year concession period,” Ngafuan said.

The KJE project would boost local industries, with the agreement stipulating that at least 30% of subcontracting in the project would be awarded to local companies under the Buy Uganda Build Uganda (BUBU) policy. It would create at least 1,500 direct jobs during the construction phase and 250 jobs during the operational phase, Ngafuan said.

The financing of the Kampala-Jinja Expressway Project is part of the Bank’s commitment to improving the quality of life of the people of Africa through regional integration and is in line with its Ten-Year Strategy (2013-2022) for Africa.

The project comprises the Kampala-Jinja Mainline Expressway and the Kampala Southern Urban Bypass (KSB). The works will be implemented in two sections: Section 1 is an urban expressway including KSB (18km) and 35km of the main expressway from Kampala to Namagunga. Section 2 is a rural motorway covering 42km from Namagunga to Jinja.

The proposed concession period is 30 years, including an eight-year construction period. The Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) is the executing agency and has already commenced the procurement of a private concessionaire on a design-build-finance-operate-transfer (DBFOT) basis under the Availability Payment PPP model.

Also present at the signing ceremony were Ms. Allen Kagina, the Executive Director of the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) and Mr. Peter Lokeris, Minister for State Works and Transport.

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Life after debt: VP Arezki reflects on governance and growth in Africa
March 25, 2021 | 0 Comments

Rabah Arezki, the African Development Bank's Chief Economist and Vice President for Economic Governance and Knowledge Management
Rabah Arezki, African Development Bank’s Chief Economist and Vice President for Economic Governance and Knowledge Management

Following the launch of the 2021 edition of the African Economic Outlook, Rabah Arezki, the African Development Bank’s Chief Economist and Vice President for Economic Governance and Knowledge Management, discusses strategies to rebuild stronger African economies.

In 2021, Africa is forecast to rebound from its worst economic recession in half a century. Which indicators underpin the likelihood of such a recovery?

After contracting by 2.1 % in 2020, Africa’s real GDP is expected to grow by 3.4 % in 2021. This anticipated recovery from the worst recession in more than half a century would be underpinned by COVID-19 vaccinations and helped by a resumption of tourism, a rebound in commodity prices, and the lifting of restrictions aimed at stemming the spread of the virus. However,  the picture is clouded by unusually high uncertainties.

On the downside, the emergence of more contagious strains of COVID-19 could derail the recovery. If progress in deploying safe and effective treatment is slower than expected, governments would have to reinstate lockdown restrictions. A slow rebound in financial inflows, subdued commodity prices and tight financing conditions would suppress public finances and jeopardize the recovery. Social and geopolitical tensions in the region are also a major source of risk.

On the upside, the projected recovery could be better than anticipated if there is timely, fair and universal access to COVID-19 therapeutics and vaccines and if structural transformation efforts, including digitalization and work-from-home measures, are intensified by countries and employers. Continued fiscal and monetary stimulus measures would also strengthen the recovery.

Can you provide a clear picture of the debt situation in African countries? Why does debt relief matter now, more than ever before?

To cushion the economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, many governments in the continent announced fiscal stimulus packages that averaged about 3% of GDP. This caused a surge in the gross financing needs of the continent, which has been financed partly by ramping up debt. The average debt-to-GDP ratio, which had somewhat stabilized at around 60% of GDP at the end of 2019, is expected to climb by 10 to 15 percentage points by 2021.

The composition of Africa’s debt continues to shift towards commercial and non-Paris Club creditors, and from external to domestic sources. The Paris Club, which used to account for more than half of Africa’s external debt, now accounts for only about 27%. Africa owes the rest of the world about $546 billion – equivalent to one-quarter of its GDP and nearly equal to the size of its annual revenues of $501 billion. The recent debt accumulation has been driven mainly by the depreciation in exchange rates, growing interest expenses, and high primary deficits.

Debt relief matters now because a large number of countries are in debt distress or at high risk of debt distress. Out of the 38 low-income countries with DSA ratings, six are currently in debt distress and 14 are at high risk of debt distress. Shorter maturity of debt and increasing interest expenses on the public debt (about 18% of revenue) have exposed countries to higher refinancing risks. Increased reliance on external commercial debt has exposed countries to higher exchange rates and market risks. Debt relief would help create the fiscal space required to cushion the pandemic’s impact and drive a fast and sustainable economic recovery.

What specific reforms does AEO 2021 propose for handling debt resolution, governance, and sustainable growth issues in Africa?

The 2021 African Economic Outlook (AEO) recommends three blocks of reforms to improve the process of debt resolutions and the nexus with governance and sustainable growth. Reforms to the international financial architecture of sovereign debt to promote orderly restructuring and resolution. The current global architecture requires better coordination among creditors, which can be achieved by establishing a wider forum that brings together official bilateral, multilateral, and private-sector creditors to agree on common terms for debt restructuring and resolution.

Because African economies are particularly exposed to exogenous shocks that amplify uncertainties associated with debt contracts and repayments, the use of value recovery instruments should be embraced. Governments should use state-contingent debt instruments and value recovery sweeteners to offer risk- and reward-sharing benefits to creditors to facilitate debt restructuring negotiations. These instruments would link debt-service obligations to predefined indicators or states of the world so that in times of crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic or a natural catastrophe, debt and financing pressures are automatically alleviated.

Innovations in contract design that incorporate collective action clauses and aggregation clauses in bond contracts can allow agreed debt restructuring proposals to be aggregated across creditors for different bond series. Using a standardized design would help limit legal vulnerabilities, enhance creditor coordination, and market acceptability.

To get to the root of Africa’s debt problem and avoid the need for future debt jubilees, the relationship between debt, governance, and growth must be strengthened. Governance reforms that block leakages in public finances, improve transparency in debt management, and promote the efficiency of public investments would have to be reinforced. Growth-friendly policies that focus on accelerating digitalization and promoting free and fair competition are required to grow Africa out of the COVID-19 crisis and avoid a looming debt crisis.

What should African countries do to mitigate the short, medium, and long-term economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic?

In the short term, African countries should continue to support the health sector to consolidate gains in the fight against the pandemic. Countries should also continue to sustain monetary and fiscal support to underpin economic recovery and address increasing poverty by expanding social safety nets and making growth more equitable.

In the short to medium term, countries should address increasing poverty by expanding social safety nets and making growth more equitable. The coverage and scope of social protection must be expanded to aid the newly impoverished through in-kind support such as free food banks, medical supplies and subsidized housing.

In the medium to long term, regional integration and multinational solidarity, especially through the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement, should be strengthened. Policymakers should accelerate structural transformation through digitalization, fair competition, industrialization, and diversification. Active labour market policies need to be scaled up to retool the labour force for the evolving needs of the workplace and to build a more resilient future.

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Making the most of Africa’s energy potential
March 17, 2021 | 0 Comments

Pressure is building to phase out petroleum production in Africa to fight climate change. But harnessed strategically, Africa’s oil and gas industry can power a better future for Africa. Are calls to “keep it in the ground” really in Africa’s best interests?

By NJ Ayuk*

NJ Ayuk is the executive chairman of the African Energy Chamber. (Credit: African Energy Chamber)
NJ Ayuk is the executive chairman of the African Energy Chamber. (Credit: African Energy Chamber)

Do a Google search for ‘Help Africa,’ and you know how many results you’ll get?

1.7 Billion. ‘Help children in Africa, African hunger and how to help, Save Africa from climate change.’

There’s even a strategy for that last one: Keep Africa’s petroleum resources in the ground. The reasoning goes, if we produce fewer fossil fuels, we’ll emit less carbon and be better protected from climate change.

The international community is embracing that idea. BlackRock and Royal Bank of Scotland said they’re moving away from investments that support fossil fuel production.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and the International Energy Agency go even further.

Seeing how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected oil markets, they say now is a golden opportunity to phase out fossil fuels and usher in an era of renewable resources, freeing developing countries in particular from ‘dirty energy sources.’

Carbon emissions

Over the last 300 years, all of Africa has emitted seven times less carbon dioxide than China, 13 times less than the United States, and 18 times less than the combined countries of Europe.

Attempting to phase out Africa’s oil industry to prevent climate change is like snuffing out a small, controlled campfire instead of focusing your attention on kilometers of blazing forestland.

Funny that the keep-fossil-fuels-in-the-ground argument is a Western construct, promoted by countries that developed their economies with fossil fuels. I will not name names.

The head of Africa oil trading for the multinational commodity-trading firm, Trafigura, said telling Africa not to develop its resources is akin to making Africa “pay for the sins” of other regions. I say, trying to dictate what Africa does with its own resources is insulting, hypocritical, and frankly, an overstep.

But you know what, I think there’s more going on here than just climate change concerns. The oil and gas industry has been painted as a bunch of bad guys that oppress people and steal resources. Wrong.

But if that’s true, how do you explain indigenous oil and gas industry companies that provide jobs and training opportunities for local residents, and partner with local suppliers? Same story for the international companies operating in Africa.

But on top of providing jobs, international companies also share knowledge and technology and often improve the communities where they operate.

Something else to consider: Many oil and gas companies are diversifying their portfolios to include renewable energy assets. In fact, some of them are at the forefront of research that could lead to new renewable energy technologies.

So, if the goal is to move Africa toward increased renewable energy usage a healthy oil and gas industry is a good and cost-effective way to get there.

Does anyone care about energy poverty?

But the most important reason why Africa should be free to continue hydrocarbon production is this: Africa’s huge natural gas reserves are the continent’s best shot at alleviating energy poverty.

Today, more than 620 million people in sub-Saharan Africa don’t have electricity. That’s two-thirds of the population. Hundreds of millions more have unreliable or limited power.

What does that look like?  Without electricity, you’re cooking your food and warming your home by burning wood, charcoal, or maybe even animal waste. Your regular exposure to indoor air pollution increases your risk of respiratory infections and chronic conditions.

If you need to go to the hospital for treatment, it will be by lantern light or, worse yet, in the dark. Equipment that requires electricity, like MRI machines and ventilators, is probably not an option. 

And that’s just one aspect of your life. It doesn’t even touch on how a lack of electricity impacts your children’s school or limits economic growth in your community and your employment opportunities.

Gas-to-power technology which, incidentally, generate fewer CO2 emissions can bring reliable electricity to Africa. But we have to be allowed to unleash our resources, not constrain them.

The good news is, 13 African countries are using natural gas they produce themselves or import from neighboring nations to generate electricity.  Yes, I know that renewable energy can help meet Africa’s power needs, too. But Africans shouldn’t be pressured to make either-or decisions in this area.

Energy poverty is a serious concern. Making the solution more difficult to address is simply wrong.

Freedom from aid

Now, let’s circle back to the idea that Africa needs everyone’s help. For more than 60 years, the world has poured financial aid into Africa. And where has that gotten us?

We still have hunger. We still have poverty. We still have violence, infrastructure deficit –the list goes on.

There’s no question other nations and other people want to lift us up.  But the net effect of their generosity has been to keep Africa under outside control.

To achieve autonomy, we start by monetising of our oil and gas resources. This starts with using oil and gas as a feedstock to create other value-added products, like petrochemicals and fuel. Then we take the revenues to build infrastructure and diversify economies.

Senegal, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Nigeria, Cameroon, Algeria and Equatorial Guinea has started down this path. And with the right fiscal, tax and regulatory policies, they will be on their way to becoming major players in the world’s LNG market.

*NJ Ayuk is the executive chairman of the African Energy Chamber

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In Nigeria, a mother’s search for tasty, nutritious food for her son spurs a baby food revolution
March 16, 2021 | 0 Comments
Oluwaseun Sangoleye is CEO of Baby Grubz, a Nigerian social enterprise that she founded when her son's health waned after he refused traditional baby foods and formulas.
Oluwaseun Sangoleye is CEO of Baby Grubz, a Nigerian social enterprise that she founded when her son’s health waned after he refused traditional baby foods and formulas.

For Women’s History Month, we spotlight Oluwaseun Sangoleye, founder of Baby Grubz, a Nigerian baby food company. As a first runner-up in the African Development Bank’s 2020 AgriPitch competition, Sangoleye and Baby Grubz received a $10,000 grant from the Bank’s Youth Entrepreneurship and Innovation Multi-Donor Trust Fund. We asked Sangoleye about her journey to change the way mothers think about nutrition and feeding their babies.

When Oluwaseun Sangoleye became a mother for the first time in 2012, she had no idea motherhood would inspire her to start her own company and that she would one day be supplying mothers in Nigeria, and other parts of West Africa, with healthier food for their infants. An engineer with a degree in computer science, when she gave birth to her son, she had given very little thought to what babies eat.

“I just believed they were born, you breastfeed them, and then somewhere along the way they start eating regular food,” Seun (as she’s known to staff) recalls.

However, when her growing baby refused to take baby formula, she was desperate to find an alternative. She asked her mother, mother-in-law and women at her church, but none of their suggestions worked. She searched online for help, but found no local content on how or what to feed babies.

“Everything I found online was from the UK or US, but I noticed they all promoted food purees and thought, ‘I can do that here!’” she said.

Seun created a few different recipes from pureed fruits and vegetables, including bananas, sweet potatoes and carrots, for her son to try. To her surprise, he liked them and wanted more. Excited about her discovery, Seun became an evangelist for tasty baby food, sharing the information she had with mothers and caregivers in online forums and social media channels. As her following grew, the women began to ask her to make food for them. So she did. However, it wasn’t easy – she faced a few challenges at the start.

Although her son was eating the new food she prepared for him, he wasn’t getting all the vitamins and micronutrients a growing child needs. He soon developed rickets, a skeletal disorder that’s caused by a lack of vitamin D, calcium or phosphate.

This sent Seun back into research mode. This time, she focused on learning more about the nutritional needs of growing babies at each stage of their development. She spoke with dieticians and nutritionists, and discovered many babies in Nigeria were malnourished.

“I decided then that I didn’t want to just use this info for my son and the few mothers on the forums. I wanted to do something that could help more African children and mothers,” she said.

In 2013, she launched Baby Grubz , a Lagos-based social enterprise that produces affordable, nutrient-dense food and snacks for babies and toddlers using locally-sourced grains, cereals, fruits and vegetables.

With over 30,000 followers on Instagram and more than 325,000 mothers connected to nutrition advice via an online platform, Seun’s Baby Grubz journey has included education for mothers, helping them understand the nutritional needs of babies. Her team of 18 employees, which includes 16 women, are also given basic training in nutrition when they join the company.

The Baby Grubz team outside their factory in Lagos. “Mum-in-Chief” Seun Sangoleye (center in pink) was the first runner-up in the Women-Empowered Business category at the Bank’s 2020 AgriPitch Competition in November 2020.

“At Baby Grubz, we believe that poverty and malnutrition go hand in hand,” said Seun. “Our holistic approach leverages the strength of mothers in the fight against malnutrition by empowering women traders, nutrition educators and breastfeeding advocates in their communities.”

Baby Grubz has expanded its women-only distribution model across Nigeria, Ghana, and even to Nigerian and other West African mothers in the UK who are looking for familiar foods to feed their babies.

Although COVID-19 lockdowns in Nigeria have impacted Baby Grubz’s domestic supply chain, the business has grown over the last year as mothers who typically bought imported baby foods looked for local options due to closed borders and shipping delays.

“We’ve seen an increase in sales, mostly from people discovering Baby Grubz for the first time,” said Seun.

With a healthy son, who will be nine this year, and a growing business, Seun is determined to be an example for other African women entrepreneurs: “Baby Grubz is a multinational company of African descent selling indigenous products. These are the building blocks of excellence.”

Seun participated in the AgriPitch Competition bootcamp where she received training on investment readiness, financial management and market readiness. She was first runner-up in the Women-Empowered Business category and will receive follow-up mentoring for six months. The AgriPitch competition is organized by the Bank’s Enable Youth Program.

*Courtesy of AfDB

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Nobel laureate urges more action on debt for African growth to rebound
March 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

Nobel laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz has called for a comprehensive global plan to help countries cope with mounting debt that has been compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Stiglitz, a recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2001, was speaking on Friday at the virtual launch of the African Development Bank’s 2021 African Economic Outlook report during a conversation with Bank President Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina.

Adesina began the exchange by pointing out that Africa’s debt had climbed to around 70 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). He then sought Stiglitz’s views on the prevailing global debt architecture.

“That’s a question I’ve been very concerned with for a long time … You need debt restructuring, and that needs to be really high on the international agenda,” said Stiglitz, an American economist and a professor at Columbia University.

“Every country has bankruptcy laws but there’s no bankruptcy law for international debt,” Stiglitz added. “Remember when there’s too much debt, it’s as much the creditor’s problem as the debtor’s problem.”

Adesina and Stiglitz went on to discuss recent debt relief efforts, including a debt standstill that the G20 group of wealthy nations presented to the world’s poorest countries in April 2020. Stiglitz said the standstill took place when it seemed the pandemic might only last a few months. “Now that it’s lasted a year, a standstill is not enough.”

“What needs to be done with debt is comprehensive and quick restructuring. We don’t want to fall into the trap of doing too little, too late,” Stiglitz said.

This year’s African Economic Outlook highlights how the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic has contributed to rising debt levels among African countries, and proposes remedies. Stiglitz said his proposal, an international debt framework, had to include the private sector, given its growing role as a source of government debt.

According to the African Economic Outlook, the share of commercial creditors in Africa’s external debt stock has more than doubled in the last two decades, from 17 percent in 2000 to 40 percent by the end of 2019.

Some hope has come in the form of new special drawing rights, potentially $500 billion, which the G20 pledged earlier in March to the International Monetary Fund to support poor countries. Adesina said the funds would “go a long way” to stabilizing foreign reserves and the exchange rate, allowing countries to go back to the market.

Adesina said another solution could be to establish an African financial stabilization mechanism where African countries can pool their funds, which would allow countries to have “endogenous” fiscal and monetary policies to ensure that you deal with “the cause of the illness…and not always the symptoms.”

Both speakers strongly favored beefing up what Adesina called Africa’s “healthcare defence.”

“Investing in quality healthcare infrastructure is so important. We are going to be investing in this… and the private sector has to play a big role,” Adesina said.

Adesina called for “vaccine justice”, pointing out that so far, only one percent of the continent’s population had received delivery of vaccines – a key part of the continent’s health and economic response, as the African Economic Outlook report also points out.

The African Economic Outlook is the African Development Bank’s flagship annual publication. It provides economic data as well as analysis and recommendations for the continent’s economies. Each edition focuses on a contemporary theme.

The 2021 edition of the African Economic Outlook estimates that Africa’s GDP contracted 2.1 percent in 2020, the continent’s first recession in half a century. GDP is projected to grow by 3.4 percent in 2021.

Regarding debt, the report estimates that African governments need additional gross financing of about $154 billion in 2020/21 to respond to the Covid-19 crisis.

Find the full report here.

*AfDB

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African Economic Outlook 2021: Africa’s growth prospects bullish despite COVID-19 constraints and debt burden
March 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

  • The economic impact of the pandemic varies across economic characteristics and regions, but the projected recovery is broad-based
  • the average debt-to-GDP ratio for Africa is expected to climb by 10 to 15 percentage points in the short to medium term
  • the time for one last debt relief for Africa is now – President Akinwumi A. Adesina

Despite the challenging backdrop of a global pandemic and external economic shocks, Africa is expected to recover from its worst recession in half a century and reach 3.4 percent growth in 2021, the African Development Bank said in its 2021 African Economic Outlook report, launched on Friday.

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus in December 2019 has taken a massive toll on Africa, hitting tourism-dependent economies, oil-exporting economies and other-resource intensive economies the hardest, as well as deepening inequality.

The African Economic Outlook, published annually since 2003, provides headline numbers on Africa’s economic performance and outlook. This year’s theme “From Debt Resolution to Growth: The Road Ahead for Africa”, highlights the impact of Covid-19 and government debt, offering mitigating measures to governments and policy makers.

The continent-wide projected recovery, following a 2.1% contraction in 2020, does not remove the threat of increasing poverty, the report said. An estimated 39 million Africans could possibly slip into extreme poverty this year, following about 30 million who were pushed into extreme poverty in 2020 as a result of the pandemic. The report finds that populations with lower levels of education, few assets, and working in informal jobs are the most affected and must be protected.

Presenting the report during a virtual launch ceremony, African Development Bank Vice President and Chief Economist Rabah Arezki cautioned that Africa’s predicted growth could be subject to major downside risks arising from both external and domestic factors. “The cost of inaction will be large,” he warned.

Debt

In 2020, government spending across Africa the continent skyrocketed as countries strived to support their populations through the pandemic.

This has had a direct negative impact on budgetary balances and debt burdens: the average debt-to-GDP ratio for Africa is expected to climb by 10 to 15 percentage points in the short to medium term, fueled by the surge in government spending and the contraction of fiscal revenues as a result of Covid–19.
This will result in fast-paced debt accumulation in the near to medium term. Although the average debt to-GDP ratio had stabilized around 60 percent of GDP, recent debt restructuring experiences in Africa have been costly and lengthy because information asymmetries, creditor coordination problems, and the use of more complicated debt instruments, the report said.

African Development Bank’s Covid response

The African Development Bank reacted swiftly to the Covid-19 pandemic, putting in place a crisis response facility to support countries in mitigating the health and economic effects of the pandemic. The Bank also launched a $3 billion Fight COVID–19 social bond on global capital markets, which at the time was the largest U.S. dollar-denominated social bond ever.

However, the fundamentals of Africa’s debt burden must be prioritized and not ignored, African Development Bank President Dr. Akinwumi A Adesina said.

“The Bank made a strategic and forward-looking choice to discuss a topic that could become a key policy concern in the near term,” he writes in the report’s foreword.

“We need to address Africa’s debt and development finance challenges in partnership with the international community. Much larger financial support is needed, and private sector creditors need to be part of the solution. The time for one last debt relief drive for Africa is now.”

The report makes important recommendations for a multi-pronged policy approach to addressing the pandemic. These include  supporting  the health sector with resources  for health care systems to cope with the virus and other preventable diseases;  monetary and fiscal support to underpin economic recovery; expanding social safety nets and making growth more equitable; minimizing the long-term implications of the pandemic on human capital accumulation by opening schools and scaling up active labor market policies to retool the labor force for the future of work through digitalization, industrialization, and diversification.

Hannan Morsy, Director of the African Development Bank’s Macroeconomic Policy, Forecasting and Research Department, said: “We have a once-in-a-century opportunity at building forward better, more equitable, more sustainable and above all more resilient. Prompt and bold measures are needed to make it happen, the report highlights the required actions.”

Earlier, Professor Joseph E. Stiglitz, recipient of the 2001 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, joined Dr. Adesina for a one-and-one conversation as the event opener. This led into a broader panel discussion to discuss the report.

Read Entire Report Here

*AFDB

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African Development Bank named the World’s Best Multilateral Financial Institution 2021 by Global Finance
March 9, 2021 | 0 Comments

Abidjan, 9 March 2021 – The prestigious U.S. magazine, Global Finance, specializing in financial markets and investment banking, has named the African Development Bank as the “Best Multilateral Financial Institution in the world for 2021”. 

 The award is a global recognition for the path breaking efforts of the African Development Bank as it transforms itself into a solutions bank for Africa, through a combination of its operations, knowledge services and investment positioning, which continue to help accelerate Africa’s development.

 The award is an affirmation of the success of the operational strategy being pursued by the African Development Bank under the leadership of Akinwumi A. Adesina, who was unanimously re-elected to a second consecutive five-year term as President of the institution last year. 

 “With widespread expectations of consolidation in multiple sectors and all around the world, investment banks will play a leading role in reshaping the world economy post-pandemic,” said Joseph D. Giarraputo, publisher and editorial director of Global Finance on announcing the winning list. 

 “Companies need more than ever to understand the specialties and skills that investment banks bring to the table. Global Finance awards are a valuable guide.”

 In 2020 the African Development Bank received broad recognition for responding swiftly to the needs of the African continent in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and for its pioneering role in the global social bond market. 

 In October 2020, the African Development Bank was selected in a poll of global bond market players as the best issuer for its $3 billion dollar-denominated Fight Covid-19 social bond, issued on 27 March 2020. 

 The Bank’s Fight Covid-19 Social bond was the largest ever US dollar denominated bond in world history, floated on the Luxembourg stock exchange, and listed on the London Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq Sustainable Bond Platform. 

 Also, in March 2020, the African Development Bank received the Environmental Finance’s 2020 bond of the year award—SSA category— for a successful one billion Norwegian Krone social bond issued in 2019. It was the first social bond ever launched in the Norwegian market, and the African Development Bank’s first transaction in Norwegian Krone. 

 Since 2017, the African Development Bank has launched nearly $5 billion worth of such instruments, denominated in US dollars, euros and Norwegian Krone.

 Bank President Akinwumi Adesina, said: “I am delighted at Global Finance’s recognition of the African Development Bank as the best multilateral financial institution in the world in 2021. I am proud that for first time since its establishment in 1964, the African Development Bank has risen to a position as a foremost globally-respected financial institution.”

 Adesina described the award as one which was “duly earned” and credited the Bank’s continued success to a new culture of results, strong client orientation, leadership, creativity and continued innovation by a team of excellent staff across all its jurisdictions. He added: “We are constantly innovating, developing and deploying financial, investment and knowledge products to meet the rapidly changing needs of African countries and the private sector.”

 In February 2021, the ratings agency S&P Global affirmed the African Development Bank’s “AAA/A-1+” foreign currency issuer credit rating with a stable outlook. The Bank has continued to receive extraordinary support from its shareholders, including an increase in its subscribed capital from $93 billion to $208 billion, the largest increase in its capital since its establishment.

 According to Adesina “The extraordinary support of our shareholders and the strong corporate governance of the Bank’s board of directors have served us well. We will continue to leverage our resources to better serve our clients.”

 The full results of the 22nd annual World’s Best Investment Banks will be published in an exclusive survey in the April 2021 print and digital editions and online at GFMag.com.

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AfDB:On International Women’s Day, Acting VP Gichuri reflects on Africa’s gender wins
March 9, 2021 | 0 Comments

To mark International Women’s Day, development leader Wambui Gichuri shares her thoughts on how far Africa has come on gender equity. She also reveals personal life lessons that have inspired her. Gichuri is Acting Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, as well as Director for Water Development and Sanitation, at the African Development Bank.

1. What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

International Women’s Day is a celebration of women’s remarkable achievements and an opportunity to review the obstacles that stand in the way of women realizing our full potential.

More personally, I believe that what we tell our children – whether girls or boys – is really important. Growing up, I heard and saw many biases against women and girls – which unfortunately still persist. But my mum, who raised me and my two sisters as a single parent, told us that we could succeed beyond our wildest dreams if we focused on school, worked hard and passed our exams. She told us that education is the key that can open any door. This stuck with my sisters, and with me. On International Women’s Day, I honour all that my mother did to prepare us to achieve.

2. What progress in gender empowerment and equality have you seen in your career, and what challenges remain?

There are more women in school and more women with degrees. There are more women in boardrooms and in government. An African woman – Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala – is now heading the World Trade Organization. She is the first African and first woman to hold this office. However, we still need more women sitting where decisions are made. 

We need to be safe in our workplaces, out in public, and in our homes. We need more access to finance to start and scale up businesses. Organizations need to take action to close gender wage gaps. We need to invest in infrastructure services such as water, sanitation and hygiene to ease the burden among the millions of unserved people in Africa who suffer poor health as a result of inadequate or unavailable services or spend valuable productive time collecting water. It is a well-known fact that, in most cases, women and girls bear the brunt of these shortcomings.

What’s more, COVID-19 will undermine many of the gains of the past decade, for example, by making it more difficult for many girls to return to school.

3. How does your work at the Bank advance opportunities for women across the continent?

Gender equality and women’s empowerment is central to the Bank’s strategies and programs. In 2020, the Bank’s Board approved the People Strategy, which commits to actions and targets that move us closer to gender parity among staff. The Bank also approved a new Gender Strategy and Action Plan which aims to empower women in a number of areas, including access to finance and markets.

The Bank also invests in strategic initiatives such as the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa program (AFAWA) which aims to reduce the estimated $42 billion financing gap for women-owned and run SMEs. AFAWA has two parallel channels: the first is strategic use of the Bank’s financial instruments such as lines of credit, trade finance, and equity funds – expected to unlock $2 billion. The second channel is an innovative guarantee mechanism expected to de-risk women’s SMEs and incentivize financial institutions to lend to women entrepreneurs. The guarantee mechanism, called the AFAWA Guarantee for Growth, is expected to unlock $3 billion. AFAWA’s implementation started in January 2021 and the program held a special Women’s Day virtual event, where it introduced some of the first beneficiaries.

4. What words of advice would you give to young women starting out in their working lives?

Find good mentors to guide you – and be a mentor to others, because this is a good way to develop leadership skills. Networking is an important source of new ideas, knowledge, and possible job opportunities. Read books – they will help you expand your horizons, strengthen analytical and writing skills, inform your conversations, listening skills, and more!

Learn digital skills to adapt to virtual work environments and to be equipped for the future of work.

Most importantly: I encourage young women to work hard, dream big, be clear about your career goals and follow them with tenacity, passion, and energy.

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The Africa Digital Inclusion Facility approves grants worth $1.3 million for two research efforts to enhance women’s digital access to loans and micro-insurance
March 9, 2021 | 0 Comments

The African Development Bank has approved two grants for research that will increase African women’s access to a range of digital financial services including loans and micro-insurance.

The grants, for $1 million and $300,000 respectively, will be disbursed through the Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Facility, a blended finance vehicle supported by the Bank, to two financial technology firms, Pula Advisors Kenya Ltd., and M-KOPA Kenya Ltd.

Pula Advisors will use the $1 million for research of social, cultural and economic factors that impact women farmers’ access to micro-insurance in Kenya, Nigeria and Zambia. Research findings will inform the design and implementation of gender-centric insurance products. The project will be undertaken over a 3-year time frame.

“This grant funding will be used to leverage technology to develop innovative and responsive loan and insurance products that can spur productivity and inclusion, especially for our women smallholder farmers and traders.” said Sheila Okiro, the Bank’s Coordinator for ADFI.

The three-year project will have three phases: product development; piloting; and scaling; the outcomes are expected to benefit 360,000 farmers, 50% of them women, as well as boost farm yields by up to 30%. This will also raise incomes and enhance household and national food security.

M-KOPA will use the $300,000 grant funding for research involving 250 women and 250 men in Kenya’s Kisumu, Eldoret and Machakos counties. The company will assess the barriers to and opportunities for women’s access to digital financial services and financial literacy programmes via smartphone, and use the research insights to design a financial services app that is relevant to small-scale women traders.

The project, approved by the Bank on 9 February, 2021, will benefit women with no or limited access to financial services that run small informal businesses. Once developed, the mobile app will be used to pilot small loans to the women traders.

Both projects align with ADFI’s digital products and innovation and capacity building intervention pillars  as well as its cross-cutting focus on gender inclusion, a thematic running across all its interventions.

The PULA grant approval meets African Development Bank strategic goals, including the Ten-Year Strategy, two High-5 priority areas—feed Africa and improve the quality of life for Africans— and  the financial inclusion strategies of Kenya, Nigeria and Zambia. 

The M-KOPA project is aligned with the Bank’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) program that seeks to increase access to finance for women.

ADFI is a pan-African initiative designed to accelerate digital financial inclusion throughout Africa, with the goal of ensuring that 332 million more Africans, 60% of them women, gain access to the formal economy. The Facility was formally launched in June 2019 at the Bank’s Annual Meetings in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. Current ADFI partners are the French Development Agency (AFD); the French Treasury’s Ministry of Economy and Finance; The Government of Luxembourg’s Ministry of Finance; the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; and the African Development Bank, which also hosts the fund.

*AfDB

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African Development Bank President says vaccines and debt relief will be key to Africa’s recovery from COVID-19
February 12, 2021 | 0 Comments

“The world must not short-change Africa on access to vaccines.” – President Adesina

The President of the African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, has called for fair access to COVID-19 vaccines for Africans and said debt relief would help African economies recover faster and better from the pandemic.

Speaking on 8 February at a virtual event held in his honour as the outgoing African of the Year of African Leadership Magazine, the Bank President warned that so long as the coronavirus was unchecked in any part of the world, no one would be safe.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel – it just happens to be a very long tunnel. I am very positive that African economies will bounce back over the next two years, but the speed of recovery will depend on ensuring that Africa gets enough vaccines for its population,” Adesina said.

“The world must not short-change Africa on access to vaccines,” he added.

He also said significant debt relief would be key to accelerating African economies’ recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

“To recover faster, Africa will need significant debt forgiveness from bilateral and official creditors,” he said during the virtual event attended by Douye Diri, the Governor of the Nigerian state of Bayelsa, and Benoy Berry, Chairman of Contec Global Worldwide.

Adesina added: “While developed countries have been spending trillions of dollars for fiscal stimulus, Africa does not have such resources. The payment for vaccines is already adding to the already high debt burden.”

A highlight of the conversation was Adesina’s induction into the magazine’s African Leadership Hall of Fame for “raising the performance bar” in Africa.

African Leadership Magazine Chairman Ken Giami said the African Development Bank had scored some outstanding achievements in 2020 under President Adesina and had “infected” Africa with optimism.

Giami said: “ALM feels very proud of the President’s contribution as he has raised the performance bar for future African of the Year winners. Indeed, his award was a call for greater service to the people, especially at a time when Africa needed true leadership.”

Adesina vowed that the African Development Bank, in collaboration with its partners, would continue to lead Africa’s recovery and development after the pandemic, with a focus on youth, women and healthcare.

“Together, we will create new opportunities for African youth and trigger a youth-based wealth system for Africa. Together, we will ensure that we deliver financing for African women,” he said in his concluding remarks.

He stressed: “Together, we will support Africa to build world-class, quality healthcare infrastructure, while ensuring also that the continent builds its pharmaceutical and vaccine industrial production.”

African leaders who have previously won the African Leadership Magazine African of the Year award include former Liberian President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (2011); Sudanese businessman Mo Ibrahim (2012); former Vice President of Nigeria Atiku Abubakar (2013); former President of Tanzania Jakaya Kikwete (2014); Tanzanian businessman and philanthropist Mo Dewji (2016); and President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame (2017).

*AfDB

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African women in science are making waves
February 12, 2021 | 0 Comments

To mark International Day for Women and Girls in Science, we asked contributors to the recently released Sanitation and Wastewater Atlas for Africa about the science that went into the Bank co-publication and their experiences as pioneering women in their field.

Maimuna Nalubega, Ph.D, Chief Water Development Officer, African Development Bank

Maimuna Nalubega, Ph.D, Chief Water Development Officer, African Development Bank
Maimuna Nalubega, Ph.D, Chief Water Development Officer, African Development Bank

Q: The Sanitation and Wastewater Atlas for Africa explores the links between sanitation and wastewater, and ecosystem health and human health. What role does science play in exploring those links?

The role that science plays in the link between sanitation and wastewater, ecosystem health and human health is rooted in the characteristics of water and its centrality to human and ecosystems health. Water of adequate quality and quantity is essential for human health and ecosystems health.

Water is called a universal solvent because of its ability to dissolve more substances than any other liquid. As it moves through the ground, the rivers and even the air, the quality of water changes with the contents of the medium. When we use technology to abstract water from its sources for domestic (or agricultural) uses, it is important that the water that is finally availed to users meets the required quality. scientists identify the most appropriate sources and means of abstraction of  water, and through research, identifies and optimizes the required treatment options to make the water potable or fit for the purpose.

Similarly, when we use water for domestic or industrial purposes,  it may not be suitable for return into the environment or water bodies. Without treatment, such water, or fecal sludge, will pollute the environment, spread diseases, and damage ecosystems. Scientists will quantify and characterize the wastewater, solid waste or fecal sludge and identify the best and most affordable options for treating this waste – including reuse.

Q: How did you apply your background as a public health and environmental engineer, postgraduate research on the role of wetlands on wastewater treatment and ecosystem protection, and current Bank position to collaborate on the Atlas?

In terms of my work on the Atlas, my experience in sanitary engineering training and research served three main purposes: for the conceptualization and design of the research project, along with our partners, UNEP and GRID-Arendal; to identify resource persons who could contribute to the preparation of the Atlas; and to review and provide feedback on the scientific content of the Atlas.

My primary role as a water and sanitation expert, and indeed the primary role of the Bank’s water development and sanitation department – which is in an operations complex – is not research. But we do collaborate with researchers to help identify solutions to specific problems.

Robinah Kulabako, Ph.D, Sr. Lecturer and Chair, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Makerere University; Lead author, Chapter 2, Sanitation and Wastewater Atlas for Africa

Robinah Kulabako, Ph.D, Sr. Lecturer and Chair, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Makerere University; Lead author, Chapter 2, Sanitation and Wastewater Atlas for Africa

Q: You led on the Atlas’ second chapter on wastewater streams. Can you point out where a scientific approach or methodology helped form the chapter conclusions that were reached?

We had to deploy scientific methodology: what is the source of this problem or what has been done about it? What is missing then? What could we recommend?

There was a lot of scientific research to review. It was not enough just to get the information. In science-based research, one needs to do what we call data analysis, so that you can make inferences from this data that will guide the conclusions that you draw.

For example, looking at industrial wastewater streams and effluents, we looked at the chain of effluent from major polluters in countries. The idea of ‘management,’ is that we ultimately protect the environment, given the quality as well as quantity of this effluent. Reviewing research studies and reports resulted in huge tables of data that we had to make palatable for the sake of the Atlas. One such huge table now appears as Figure 2.5 in the Atlas showing industrial effluent management in the African region. More palatable and pretty clear.

Q: In addition to your research, you are also a Senior Lecturer and Chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Makerere University in Uganda. You see the future of science in civil engineering in your classes. How does the future look for women and girls in science from where you sit?

I can actually see that the future for women and girls in science is gradually picking up. When I joined the department as an undergraduate student, we were only four girls in civil environmental engineering out of about 26 students. In the class before mine, there was only one girl. Over the years, I have seen the number of girls grow to between 30 to 40 now, in a class of about 100 students. And I must also confess, the performance of the girls has also improved with time: a few years ago we had a graduating class in civil engineering where six of the top ten graduates were girls.

At Makerere University, we have policies to promote women and girls to pursue technology, engineering, math programs…scholarships for training programs.

There are some challenges, the first one being fear, another is time demands on work and family. Some women and girls fear that maybe they will not manage, or they are made to believe that it is mostly males that are successful at pursuing this career.

I have faced this myself. When I was in high school, I believed I wanted to be an engineer. My class teacher at the time – a female – told me, “No, you cannot do engineering, that course is for males.” But I had family who encouraged me to pursue my passion. So, I quietly decided to do engineering without my teacher knowing. When she found out, she was not happy – she also said to me that if I pursue this engineering course, I will never get a man to marry me. Can you imagine?

I can tell you that the moment I graduated from university, I got married. This experience helped me realize that a teacher can limit their students – which is not a good thing.

Olufunke Cofie, Ph.D, Country Representative, International Water Management Institute – West Africa; Co-author, Chapter 6, Sanitation and Wastewater Atlas for Africa

Olufunke Cofie, Ph.D, Country Representative, International Water Management Institute – West Africa; Co-author, Chapter 6, Sanitation and Wastewater Atlas for Africa

Q: How would you describe the contribution of science-based research in determining the Atlas’ findings and recommendations?

The entire Atlas, including the findings and recommendations, were based on the body of knowledge generated from several investigations by diverse experts.

From available evidence, we were able to explain the state and trends in wastewater management and sanitation delivery in Africa, and to highlight the human health and ecosystem impacts of poor sanitation and wastewater management. We analyzed the pertinent policy and institutional arrangements and provided recommendations to progress towards achieving Africa’s Water Vision 2025 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals in 2030(link is external).

However, one of the Atlas’ conclusions is that “there is little information and data on wastewater generation, collection and treatment, especially for industrial and agricultural wastewater streams, in the majority of African countries.”

So, any gaps in the Atlas are because scientific evidence is lacking or not accessible. Hence, the Atlas is not just about science-based research – equally important is accessible research results to inform policy and practice.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit more about why pursuing a degree in soil science appealed to you? To what degree is science your passion?

As a child, while helping my mum to prepare food for younger siblings, I often wondered how by adding water to custard powder, the color immediately changed from white to yellow slurry. It baffled me, so I developed an interest in chemistry, which happened to be my best subject in school.

I wanted to do science, but actually I was interested in pharmacy. But when I got to the point of selecting core subjects, my Uncle in an upper class at the same school told me, “You cannot do physics, drop it.”

I ended up dropping physics so I could not study pharmacy at university. I applied to study agricultural economics at the University of Nigeria-Nsukka, but when the admission letter came – I had been admitted into soil science. I must confess that was the first time I learned of soil science. I went in for it and later focused on soil chemistry, which allowed me to follow my childhood passion of studying something that would involve chemistry.

Q: When people say you are a role model for women and girls considering careers in science, you respond by saying…

Shine in your uniqueness. Your uniqueness is unique; your uniqueness distinguishes you.

*Source AfDB.Responses have been edited for clarity and brevity. Learn more about the Sanitation and Wastewater Atlas for Africa via this link.

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African Development Bank and Mozambique LNG Area 1 Project win Multilateral Deal of the Year Award for $24 billion global syndicated finance
February 12, 2021 | 0 Comments

The Mozambique Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Area 1 Project and the African Development Bank have jointly received the prestigious Global Multilateral Deal of the Year 2020 award by the print and online publication Project Finance International (PFI).

The project, the single largest foreign direct investment in Africa to date with a value of over $24 billion, will exploit Mozambique’s immense offshore natural gas reserves, which can potentially transform global energy markets. The African Development Bank signed an agreement for a $400 million senior loan to finance the project in July 2020.

In signing the loan agreement, the African Development Bank joined a global syndication of commercial banks and export credit agencies that are providing financing. This financing includes direct loans as well as export credit agency-covered loans with 16- and 18-year tenors. The project is implemented by an international consortium of energy developers and operators led by Total as the operator of the project. It includes Mitsui, Oil India, Bharat Petroleum, PTTEP, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and Mozambique’s national oil and gas company, Empresa Nacional de Hidrocarbonetos (ENH).  The consortium is providing the balance of financing through equity. Financial closing on the project is expected in 2021.

Mozambique is expected to become one of the world’s largest LNG exporters. Its gas represents an important source of LNG supply diversification. The project will boost the country’s ability to meet energy demand through gas-fired electricity and will support its ambitious goal to provide universal access to energy to its citizens by 2030. The project can also potentially feed downstream industries that use natural gas, such as fertilizer and electricity producers. It can thus become an engine for agricultural development and trade across the Southern African Development Corporation region. 

PFI is the leading source of intelligence on global project finance. In its award announcement, it noted that the project had faced many challenges in securing financing, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I still find it remarkable how so many project financings were transacted this year,” including the Mozambique LNG deal, said PFI’s Editor Rod Morrison.

“The multilaterals played a key role in getting the project financed,” Morrison said. In addition to the African Development Bank, PFI cited the participation of United States Export Import Bank and Japan Bank for International Cooperation as critical.     

In addition to loan financing, the Bank played a lead role in ensuring the project’s compliance with strict environmental and social standards. It also invested in strengthening the capacity of small and medium enterprises to enter the project’s supply chains and promote good standards of governance and transparency in Mozambique.

Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, said: “I am delighted with the award of the Global Multilateral Deal of the Year 2020 to the African Development Bank and the Government of Mozambique LNG Area 1 Project, by Project Finance International. This great recognition reinforces the African Development Bank’s leadership and role in helping to structure financing and attract investments to Africa. The $24 billion project, which was structured at the Bank’s Africa Investment Forum, is Africa’s largest foreign direct investment. We will work with all partners to ensure that this project helps to unlock greater economic growth for Mozambique and benefits millions of people in the country, while building climate resilience.”

Overall, the project aligns with a number of the African Development Bank’s strategic goals and its country strategy for Mozambique and for Southern Africa. These goals include boosting employment, expanding universal electricity access and leveraging natural resource development for investment in sustainable infrastructure.

Fernando Balderrama, Chief Investment Officer with the Bank, said: “We are excited about the growth and industrialization opportunities created through this project for the Mozambican population.” He added: “The African Development Bank will continue to play a convening role to facilitate and assist with the suitable implementation of this investment, advocating for international best practice, small and medium enterprise development and diversification, women’s empowerment, job creation, and other critically important considerations.”

*AfDB

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African Development Bank and Harvard Kennedy School train country economists on “building back better” post-COVID-19
February 12, 2021 | 0 Comments

The Country Economics Department (ECCE) and the Human Resources  Departments (CHHR) of the African Development Bank are collaborating with researchers at Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD) and Executive Education at Harvard Kennedy School to train the Bank’s Country Economists on effective post-COVID-19 response and recovery strategies for Africa.

The COVID-19 outbreak has triggered a global economic downturn, with populations locked down and business, industry and trade heavily impacted. African economies shrank by 2.1 percent in 2020, with the pandemic compounding an already alarming state of indebtedness.

Seated across the Bank’s country offices, country economists have an important role to play in providing member countries with advice on response strategies to ensure a gradual recovery from the impact of COVID-19, with the longer-term aim of “building back better” and fostering inclusive growth.

Emmanuel Pinto Moreira, the Bank’s Director of the Country Economics Department, said the program would help the Bank’s economists to respond to the needs of regional member countries (RMCs) as they chart their economic recovery from the pandemic.

“The Bank is increasingly shifting towards a knowledge institution and an influencer of policy reforms in the RMCs,” Dr Pinto Moreira said.

“Our country economists who engage with RMCs regularly, are frequently faced with important policy questions and demand for advice on fiscal and social policies that RMCs should adopt in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery strategies.”

Dr. Awuese Oku, the Bank’s Chief Learning and Development Officer noted that while the global economic recession will impact African economies and possibly lead to recessions in some countries in the continent, Africa needs appropriate response strategies not just to respond to the effects of the pandemic, but also how to build strong systems. “The Bank can only give what it has; therefore, the Bank’s support to the RMCs can only be as good as the knowledge that Bank Staff possess”. Dr. Oku noted. She thanked the  Management  of the Bank for always supporting staff learning with adequate budget.

Seventy economists from the Bank are participating in the interactive program, which runs virtually from 18 January to 10 February 2021. The course is based on Smart Policy Design and Implementation (SPDI)(link is external) methodology, an approach developed by researchers at the Havard University.

Bank economists are already thrilled with the course. “The economic collapse caused by the COVID-19 pandemic demands innovative responses to transform African economies. I find the Smart Policy Design and Implementation (SPDI) methodology proposed and discussed in the course to be a powerful tool for developing post-COVID proposals,” said Cedric Mbeng Mezui, the Bank’s Chief African Bond Markets Expert, one of the participants in the program.

Joel Muzima, a Principal Country Economist, said: “This is a cutting-edge training and facilitated by top-notch scholars. I am confident that this training will help sharpen my analytical skills and critical thinking for country dialogue and designing country strategies and diagnostics to assist Bank’s regional member countries ‘build back better’ post-COVID-19.”

The Bank has been at the forefront of the continent’s efforts to address the economic impacts of COVID-19,  guiding member countries on their fiscal and social policy responses to the crisis. This is a role it will carry through 2021 when Africa’s economy is projected to grow by 3.4% as the global economy starts to recover.

“We are excited to welcome economists from the African Development Bank to this special program on the challenges of COVID-19 and multi-sectoral response to achieve inclusive growth,” said Katy Doyle,

Director for Evidence for Policy Design, Center for International Development (CID) based at Harvard Kennedy School.

*AfDB

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S&P Global affirms African Development Bank’s AAA rating with stable outlook
February 1, 2021 | 0 Comments
We have been able to maintain our high standards despite the tremendous challenges posed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, says  AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina
We have been able to maintain our high standards despite the tremendous challenges posed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, says AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina

 Ratings agency S&P Global has affirmed its “AAA/A-1+” foreign currency issuer credit rating of the African Development Bank with a stable outlook.

 The ratings agency said its outlook reflected the expectation that the African Development Bank (AfDB) would, over the next two years, “prudently manage its capital while maintaining solid levels of high-quality liquidity assets and a robust funding profile. We also assume extraordinary shareholder support to the bank will remain unchanged.”

 In a letter, dated 29 January 2021, S&P Global Ratings noted the Bank’s $115 billion capital increase, approved by its shareholders in October 2019.

S&P said: “Our ratings on AfDB reflect its important role in Africa, marked by a long track record of fulfilling its policy mandate through economic cycles, combined with robust shareholder support. In October 2019, the bank’s shareholders approved its seventh general capital increase (GCI-VII), effectively increasing the bank’s capital base by $115 billion … to $208 billion.”

 The ratings agency added: “We expect the capital increase will enable AfDB to continue expanding its reach, particularly in light of the renewed focus on infrastructure financing and private-sector lending. The bank has already been growing steadily over the years. The bank is in a good position to support increasing mobilization efforts and crowd-in additional private-sector funds.”

 African Development Bank President Dr. Akinwumi Adesina said: “The AAA rating by S&P Global Ratings affirms our prudent financial and risk management at the African Development Bank, and our strong governance systems. We have been able to maintain our high standards despite the tremendous challenges posed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We are grateful for the steadfast and extraordinary support of our shareholders. The Bank remains committed to providing African countries with needed financing support to recover from the health crisis and to strongly grow back their economies, while managing our risk and capital requirements.”

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The Great Green Wall and the African Development Bank’s TAAT: two bold initiatives planting Africa’s seeds of change
January 19, 2021 | 0 Comments

Just five years ago, Sudan’s farmers harvested a mere 472,000 tons of wheat from about a quarter-million hectares of land. Today, the Sahel country  is on the cusp of becoming a regional breadbasket.

One of the reasons for Sudan’s agricultural turnaround is the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) program, which is funded by the African Development Bank. Within the next four years, TAAT aims to raise Africa’s food output by 100 million tons and lift 40 million people out of poverty by harnessing high-impact, proven technologies to raise agricultural productivity and mitigate food-security risks associated with climate change.

“Now, we consistently have good-quality wheat and in record quantities,” said Daf’Allah Mohamed Ahmed, a Sudanese farmer taking part in the TAAT program, which includes the provision of training on production techniques. “My wheat yield increased from 2.5 tons to 5 tons,” said Ahmed, with a broad smile.

The new agricultural technologies not only improve harvests but also enhance the quality of life for thousands of families in Sudan.

Sudan and other TAAT success stories have led the Bank to advance other initiatives to fuel the continent’s agricultural transformation. At the One Planet Summit on January 11, 2021 the Bank pledged to help mobilize up to $6.5 billion over five years to advance the Great Green Wall project, which aims to plant an 8,000 km-long swathe of trees, grassland and vegetation across the Sahel to rejuvenate degraded terrain, create green jobs and reduce political instability.

The resources will be made available through a range of programmes supporting the Great Green Wall by drawing on internal as well as external sources of funding, such as the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa and the Green Climate Fund, among others.

The Bank has made the Sahel a top priority for investment and for mobilising new sources of finance to advance Africa’s climate adaptation opportunities. Climate change has led to extreme temperatures and fluctuating rainfall and drought in the region, home to 250 million people across several countries. Millions of livelihoods and hard-won development progress are threatened.

TAAT’s results in Sudan, one of the GGW countries, hold promise for the initiative’s

success. Through TAAT, Sudanese farmers gained access to heat-tolerant wheat varieties and other productivity-enhancing technologies, helping the country to boost yields and move closer to self-sufficiency in the production of wheat, a staple.

While ordinary wheat typically produces high yields at temperatures between 20 and 26 degrees Celsius, heat-tolerant wheat seeds thrive in areas where field temperatures exceed 30 degrees.

Since 2017, the program has rolled out improved, certified seeds that are better suited to Sudan’s hot and dry climate. As a result, the country recently recorded its largest wheat harvest. Wheat production in 2020 reached 1.1 million tons from 315,500 hectares of farmland. Development experts say the nation is on a path to becoming Africa’s next powerhouse wheat producer.

The Great Green Wall initiative, coordinated by the African Union, will promote the inclusive, green development in the Sahel and Sahara regions, a goal that has gained added urgency as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Bank President Akinwumi Adesina noted as much during the One Planet Summit, saying “as we rebuild from the coronavirus and its impacts on our world, we must recalibrate growth. We must prioritise growth that protects the environment and biodiversity, and we must de-prioritise growth that compromises our common goals.”

*AfDB

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Africa Free Trade Agreement: President Adesina receives award for strong leadership and support
January 19, 2021 | 0 Comments

African Development Bank President Akinwumi A. Adesina and 10 African Heads of State and Government were on Friday honoured  for their leadership in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) process.

The AfCFTA, the largest free trade area in the world, began trading on 1 January 2021 and is expected to speed up the recovery of the continent and enhance its resilience by increasing the level of intra-African trade in goods and services.

The award was organised by AeTrade Group in collaboration with the African Union Commission, the African Business Council, the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and the East African Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture.

“As Africans, we are proud of the extraordinary effort made by our leaders towards the success of the AfCFTA,” said former Prime Minister of Ethiopia Hailemariam Boshe at an event held at the Addis Ababa headquarters of the African Union and joined virtually  by many participants.

Boshe, a patron of the AeTrade Group, thanked the awardees for their strong leadership in the process that led to the AfCFTA coming into force.

Ambassador Albert Muchanga, African Union Commissioner for Trade and Industry, noted that the AfCFTA had generated strong support in Africa and the Diaspora, “and we are proud to acknowledge our champions who have been at the forefront of this process.”

He took the opportunity to thank the heads of state and governments whose countries have ratified the Free Trade Agreement and invited others to follow suit.

“We are also celebrating the key milestones achieved from when we laid the foundation for the initiative to the official start of trading on January 1. I would like to call on governments and the private sector to take advantage of the opportunities created by the continental initiative to make Africa more prosperous,” added Muchanga.

The Chairman of the AeTrade Group, Mulualem Syoum, thanked the African Development Bank, under the leadership of Dr. Adesina, for its outstanding technical guidance and financial support to the process.

“Moving forward, we want the private sector to speak with one voice.  The AfCFTA has shown the way. To ensure effective implementation, it is time for the private sector to play its role. The Africa that we want can only be achieved through working together,” Syoum said. “We are confident that there is no need for Africa to depend on aid. We can spur domestic mobilization of resources and synergies.”

Dr. Amany Asfour, Interim Chair of the African Business Council, emphasized the role of the private sector in implementing the AfCFTA. “We in the private sector are committed to the implementation of this initiative. We will support Africa to actualise the free trade area.”

Hajiya Saratu Aliyu, President of the Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and Charles Kahuthu, CEO of the East African Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture, echoed Asfour’s sentiments.

“Jobs have to be restored and livelihoods and economies revived,” Kahuthu said. “We also need to come together to promote products made in Africa to effectively implement the AfCFTA.”

The awardees included Felix Tshisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo and incoming Chairperson of the African Union; Egyptian President Ahmed Fattah Al-Sisi; His Majesty King Mswati III, Ngwenyama of Eswatini; Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia; Nana Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana; Alpha Conde, President of Guinea; Mahamadou Issoufou, President of Niger; Muhamadu Buhari, President of Nigeria; Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, and Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa, Chairperson of the African Union.

Two former heads of state, Hailemariam Desalegn Boshe, former Prime Minister of Ethiopia, and Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria, were also honoured.

AeTrade Group is a multi-stakeholder group of African Diaspora professionals and businesspeople, with affiliation to the African Union Commission.

*Source AfDB

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African Development Bank President Adesina named a champion of Africa’s Great Green Wall climate-adaptation initiative
January 12, 2021 | 0 Comments
In the role of champion, Adesina will lead the mobilisation of political and economic support for the initiative
PARIS, France, January 12, 2021/ — African Development Bank President Akinwumi A. Adesina has been announced as a champion of Africa’s Great Green Wall (GGW) initiative.

The appointment was made at a forum held in the margins of the One Planet Summit 20201 to mobilise support for the ambitious project to plant an 8,000 km swathe of trees and other vegetation across the Sahara and Sahel regions of Africa. The green wall will act as a barrier against desertification and aims to create over 10 million green jobs in the region.

“I would also like to welcome the commitment of Dr. Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, who has agreed to take on the role of resource mobilization champion and help raise, by 2030, all the necessary funds for the realization of the Great Green Wall,” French President Emmanuel Macron told participants.

In the role of champion, Adesina will lead the mobilisation of political and economic support for the initiative.

“The Great Green Wall Initiative is the first step on the way to nature-based solutions as well as solutions based on the vitality of African eco-solutions,” said Macron. “France is very committed to this region from the standpoint of security and sustainability. We need to beef up the initiative for all the 11 countries.”

During the forum, Adesina announced that the Bank would mobilize up to $6.5 billion over the next 5 years for the Great Green Wall Initiative, joining multilateral development institutions, governments and development partners that have pledged over $14 billion. The World Bank, for instance, pledged over $5 billion in funding to advance land restoration and degradation issues and to address challenges around Lake Chad.

Adesina praised the initiative. “The Great Green Wall is part of Africa’s environmental defense system — a shield against the onslaughts of desertification and degradation,” he said. “The future of the Sahel region of Africa depends on the Great Green Wall. Without the Great Green Wall, in the face of climate change and desertification, the Sahel may disappear.”

The Bank will extend resources through a range of mechanisms, partnerships and operations, and draw on internal and external sources of funding, including the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) and the Green Climate Fund (GCF), among others.

Adesina noted that ongoing Bank initiatives such as Desert to Power, a programme to build the largest solar zone in the world in the Sahel, will enhance and complement the Great Green Wall. “This will provide electricity for 250 million people and help to protect the Great Green Wall. If there is no access to energy, the Great Green Wall will be no more than trees waiting to be turned into charcoal.” The Bank has committed to mobilize $25 billion for climate finance by 2025.

The One Planet Summit 2021 is hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron and His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. The Summit, held annually, brings together political leaders, private sector decision makers, foundations, NGOs and citizens to identify and accelerate funding for climate, biodiversity and ocean solutions and mobilize all stakeholders in public life and the economic world in collaborative efforts.

Other Great Green Wall Champions include musicians Baaba Maal and Ricky Kej and environmental activist Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim.
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Africans Who Made Global Headlines in 2020
December 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati*

Archbishop Samuel Kleda said his COVID-19 herbal remedy called Essential Oils has treated thousands in the Central African sub region
Archbishop Samuel Kleda said his COVID-19 herbal remedy called Essential Oils has treated thousands in the Central African sub region

The year 2020 is fast coming to an end. For most people, the year 2020 is one to be forgotten as the world had to fight (and is still) a deadly pandemic known as COVID-19. However, despite the challenges that 2020 brought about, there are some individuals who managed to achieve some incredible feats. Some of the feats relate to humanitarian matters, politics, economics, and science while others made significant strides in finding long lasting cures and vaccines for COVID-19. In this article, we are going to take time in sharing with all readers Africans who made global headlines in 2020.

Archbishop Samuel Kleda of Doula (Cameroon)

As the world is currently battling the corona virus pandemic, we saw it befitting to start off with one man who announced that he has found a cure for COVID-19. Early on in May when the corona virus was just starting to show off its devastating side, one cleric in Cameroon by the name Archbishop Samuel Kleda made some bold remarks stating that he had found a cure for COVID-19. Archbishop Kleda’s cure is a herbal remedy which he concocted himself. In an interview with state media CRTV, Archbishop Kleda said that he had over 30 years of medicinal plant research experience and it is this experience which helped him to come up with the COVID-19 cure which he calls Essential Oils.

Soon after his remarks, many people in Cameroon flocked to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Doua

la in search of the precious COVID-19 herbal cure. Amongst those who received the herbal cure, many of them who were interviewed by different media houses testified that the cure was of great help as it managed to heal them.

Realizing the popularity of Archbishop Kleda’s herbal cure, the Cameroonian government had to intervene sending a team of researchers and doctors to determine the validity of Kleda’s claimed cure. Once the outcome of the investigation is proved to be true, the government has promised to make the herbal cure more widely available.

In the meantime as the government researchers and scientists continue doing their work, Archbishop Kleda said he would continue administering the treatment to patients who sought help from him. He said his goal as a servant of God was to help poor and suffering people hence the reason he will continue administering the treatment free of charge to all people.

Andry Rajoelina (Madagascar)

Earlier in the year when COVID-19 was starting to show its ugly face, the President of Madagascar, Andry Rajoelina made some bold remarks stating that his country had found a cure for COVID-19. The said cure is a herbal concoction made from locally available plants in Madagascar. When the Madagascar president made the remarks, he stated that his government had already done some tests (albeit with a rather small population) and had proven that the herbal cure known as Covid-Organics was safe and effective.

As soon as Covid-Organics was released, Madagascar began to witness a reduction in the number of infected cases. At one point, the country had to go for several weeks without recording any new cases. For many, including the skeptical, they started to view this as testament that Covid-Organics was indeed a safe and effective cure and thus they started to embrace it. Many African countries approached the Madagascar government looking to get their own share of the miracle cure and found the Madagascar government readily willing to help its African sisters. Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria, Liberia, Senegal, DRC and Tanzania are some of the countries that received their own batches of Covid-Organics.

In as much as the Madagascar people and other African countries embraced Covid-Organics, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the African Union including other scientific bodies remained skeptical saying they would only approve of Covid-Organics’ safety and efficacy if clinical trials are done first.

Despite the skepticism shown by scientific bodies, the AU and WHO, President Rajoelina remained defiant stating that Covid-Organics is safe and effective for use as a COVID-19 cure. At one point, he stated that the skepticism shown by some emanates from the fact that Covid-Organics was found by an African country, if it had been any other American or European country, the reception would be different.

“What is the problem with Covid-Organics, really? Could it be that this product comes from Africa? Could it be that it’s not OK for a country like Madagascar, which is the 63rd poorest country in the world… to have come up with (this concoction) that can help save the world?” Rajoelina asked.

FILE PHOTO: John Nkengasong, Africa's Director of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), speaks during an interview with Reuters at the African Union (AU) Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 11, 2020. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: John Nkengasong, Africa’s Director of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), speaks during an interview with Reuters at the African Union (AU) Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 11, 2020. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/File Photo

Dr John Nkengasong (Cameroon)

Dr John Nkengasong is a virologist who is the director of Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC). Africa CDC was established by the African Union to support member states’ public health initiatives and strengthen public health institutions’ capacity to detect, prevent, control and respond to disease threats and outbreaks quickly and effectively. When the COVID-19 pandemic started to take its toll, Dr John Nkengasong was appointed as the WHO Special Envoy for Africa. In this role, Dr John Nkengasong has worked tirelessly in coordinating the African response to COVID-19.

In an interview of ReliefWeb, Dr John Nkengasong said his work was made easier by the fact that COVID-19 didn’t start in Africa. This gave him time to quickly strategize on how Africa could best prepare for the pandemic. As the pandemic was starting to cause havoc in other continents, Dr John Nkengasong realized that Africa by the second week of February only had two countries (Senegal and South Africa) that could diagnose COVID-19. To address this challenge, Dr John Nkengasong together with his team quickly brought together representatives of laboratories from 16 African countries, trained them and gave them diagnostic equipment. They repeated the exercise in cohorts with representatives from other African countries to ensure that every country on the continent could diagnose COVID-19 on its own.

After this, Dr John Nkengasong’s focus turned towards infection prevention and control. Recognizing that it would be devastating if health personnel in African countries would be infected in large numbers (as this would derail the fight against COVID-19), Dr John Nkengasong together with his team brought representatives of 35 countries in Nigeria and trained them on infection prevention and control. Another training was done in Kenya which brought about representatives of more than 30 countries for training in enhanced airport, airline and port-of-entry screening. The next task was to train health personnel on communicating risk to the general public and this was done in Tunisia.

As a last step in coordinating an African response to COVID-19, Dr John Nkengasong working with the African Union convened a meeting of all health ministers where it was agreed that there need to be a coordinated continental strategy that hinges on cooperation, collaboration, coordination and communication. This led to the establishment of the Africa Task Force for Coronavirus Preparedness and Response.

Jack Ma (China) *Not African but included owing to his generosity in helping in Africa’s fight against COVID-19

This article seeks to expose Africans who made global headlines in 2020. The first part of the article focused on Africans who have achieved great feats when it comes to fighting COVID-19. When it comes to Africa’s response to fighting COVID-19, it would be a miscarriage of justice to exclude one man (albeit non-African) that is, Jack Ma whose generosity with COVID-19 donations greatly helped many African countries to better fight the novel corona virus pandemic. 

When most African countries were struggling to raise adequate funds to purchase personal protective equipment and other necessary tools required in the fight against COVID-19, Chinese business magnate Jack Ma announced that he through his Jack Ma Foundation would be helping the African continent to better fight the pandemic by availing COVID-19 donations. The donations came in three rounds with all African countries benefitting.

On each round, Africa received masks, swabs and test kits, ventilators, sets of protective clothing, face shields, temperature guns, body temperature scanners and pairs of gloves.

Speaking after receiving donations for the third round, the director of Africa CDC Dr John Nkengasong said, “Getting diagnostics and medical equipment for COVID-19 response is a global challenge. Africa is in a fierce competition with the developed world with respect to the availability of commodities. These donations from the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation have been an incredible initiative helping to feed the need for medical supplies by African countries.”

Lazarus Chakwera (Malawi)

In a historic development certainly on the African continent, a constitutional court managed to annul the results of a presidential election and ordered fresh polls! Africa for so long has been marred by allegations of electoral fraud and violence. However, despite the numerous reports of electoral fraud and violence, only once (Kenya in 2017) had an election been annulled based on the reports. That changed in 2020 as Malawi’s Constitutional Court annulled the country’s 2019 presidential results ordering fresh polls.

Reading his ruling earlier on this year, Malawi’s Constitutional Court judge Healey Potani said, “In every election there are irregularities. However, in the present case, the irregularities were widespread and systematic and affected the result… We order the nullification of the election… We further order that a fresh election be held in accordance with the law and pursuant to directions we will make soon. We also order that elections should be held within 150 days.”

The landmark ruling was warmly greeted by many both within the borders of Malawi and beyond as it demonstrated the independent nature of Malawi’s Judiciary. The plaintiffs were then losing opposition candidates Lazarus Chakwera and Saulos Chilima. The two challenged the result, alleging that the tally sheets were tampered with and that some polling stations used correction fluid to alter the results.

Soon after the Constitutional Court ordered fresh polls, Lazarus Chakwera and Saulos Chilima joined forces as they entered into an alliance. The objective – to force then incumbent Peter Mutharika out of office. 6.8 million Voters cast their votes and Lazarus Chakwera was duly declared the winner of the fresh polls with 58.57 per cent of the vote.  An elated Chakwera speaking after the election re-run said, “This is a win for Malawians, it is a win for democracy, a win for justice… It is a win that will enable this nation to really reset and begin to build a new kind of Malawi in which all of us together will be involved.”

 Dr Akinwumi Adesina earned a second term and has placed the AfDB as one of the most credible partners in helping Africa bounce back from COVID 19
Dr Akinwumi Adesina earned a second term and has placed the AfDB as one of the most credible partners in helping Africa bounce back from COVID 19

Akinwumi Adesina (Nigeria)

2020 saw Akinwumi Adesina being reelected to run for a second term as the president of the African Development Bank (AFDB). However, Adesina’s path to his second term in office was by no means smooth sailing as he faced numerous challenges that threatened to derail not only his reelection but also taint his career.

According to the Business Day Nigeria, Adesina’s re-election can be likened ‘to a warrior who won an almost impossible battle as he was faced with a lot of issues which would have posed as threats for a second tenure’. Three months before he was expected to be re-elected, the former Nigerian minister of Agriculture was questioned after a string of corruption and abuse of office allegations from his own staff.

The staff calling themselves ‘Group of Concerned Staff Members of the AFDB’ claimed that Adesina was using the bank’s resources for self-promotion and personal gain while also paying out huge but underserved severance packages to staff who resigned mysteriously, and favouring his fellow Nigerians. AFDB using its own internal investigation unit opened an investigation to look into the allegations but found no evidence to prove any wrongdoing on the part of Adesina. The outcome however wasn’t accepted by the US Treasury Department which immediately called for an ‘independent’ investigation.

US Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin said, “We have deep reservations about the integrity of the committee’s process. Instead, we urge you to initiate an in-depth investigation of the allegations using the services of an independent outside investigator of high professional standing.” Soon after, a tribunal was set up chaired by former Irish President, Mary Robinson. The tribunal just like the ethics committee before it exonerated Adesina.

The tribunal’s findings paved the way for Adesina to compete for a second term and he was unanimously reelected by the Board of Governors with a 100 per cent vote at the end of the Bank’s 2020 Annual Meeting on 27 August. After his win, President Adesina had this to say, “I am deeply grateful for the collective trust, strong confidence and support of our shareholders for electing me for a second term as President. It is yet another call for selfless service to Africa and the African Development Bank, to which I will passionately devote myself… The future beckons us for a more developed Africa and a much stronger and resilient African Development Bank Group. We will build on the strong foundations of success in the past five years, while further strengthening the institution, for greater effectiveness and impacts.”

Paul Kagame (Rwanda)

Rwanda has become an emblem of economic development on the African continent and beyond. This has largely been necessitated by the country’s president, Paul Kagame who has been at the forefront in pushing a development oriented agenda. The year 2020 was no different with other recent years as Rwanda continued its developmental trajectory. However, what makes 2020 particularly special to Rwanda is the fact that 2020 is the year that Rwanda set as the year it would achieve its economic deliverables as outlined in Vision 2020. Suffice to say, there is much to celebrate as the country managed to achieve a lot of its economic deliverables.

Rwanda’s accomplishment of the objectives laid out in Vision 2020 is part of the reason for its high growth. The country’s government created Vision 2020 intending to become a middle-income country by 2020 – this was later on postponed to 2035 but there is sufficient evidence on the ground that the country is on the right path to achieving the goal way before the targeted year that is, 2035. This largely necessitated by widespread development from infrastructure to service sector investments.

Samantha Muzoroki (Zimbabwe)

They say heroes and heroines emerge during troubling times. During the troubling COVID-19 pandemic, one heroine has emerged in Zimbabwe by the name Samantha Muzoroki. Samantha Muzoroki is an immigration lawyer by profession but she found a new ‘profession’ during the national lockdown in Zimbabwe that of, feeding children, the poor and vulnerable in society.

Samantha Muzoroki runs a relief kitchen in Chitungwiza, one of the most populated towns in Zimbabwe which is a few kilometers away from the capital Harare. Her relief kitchen offers free food to children, the poor and the vulnerable. Samantha says she realized that many children were going the whole day without anything to eat as the national lockdown implemented by the government to combat the spread of the novel corona virus pandemic was having an economic toll on families that survived on doing menial jobs in and around the town – restrictions of movement which is part of the lockdown meant the shrinking of incomes for many families hence hunger. With the little she had, she decided to offer children something to eat every morning.

Unbeknown to her however, her work inspired many and soon, individuals and corporates began to donate food and money to help her continue her excellent humanitarian work. Nowadays thanks to the donations she receives from various individuals and corporates, Samantha is able to provide two meals per day (breakfast and supper) to children, the poor and the vulnerable. Her work has also inspired other individuals in different parts of the country to establish their own relief kitchen initiatives with the intention of helping the less fortunate in society during these troubling times. In the tourist town of Zimbabwe, officers from the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare in partnership with local municipality officers and members from the business community joined hands to launch the Victoria Falls Children’s Feeding Scheme. The Scheme has one aim which is to provide every child with a hot nutritious meal 5 days a week.

*Culled from December issue of PAV Magazine

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The African Development Bank appoints Mr. Simon MIZRAHI, Acting Director, Communication and External Relations (PCER)
December 18, 2020 | 0 Comments

The African Development Bank is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Simon MIZRAHI as Acting Director, Communication and External Relations Department (PCER), effective 16 December 2020.

Simon is a British national who joined the Bank on the 10th of May 2009, as Head of Results Management Division. Before joining the African Development Bank, he worked for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), based in France, as Senior Policy Adviser, Aid Effectiveness Division (2001-2007) and as Deputy Head, Aid Effectiveness (2007-2009).

As Deputy Head at the OECD in charge of aid effectiveness, Simon authored the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and the Accra Agenda for Action—two landmark agreements adopted by 110 countries and organisations across the world. Prior to this, Simon worked as Director, International Development Consultancy Services (1996-2001) and as a Country Director for Médecins du Monde, Kigali (Rwanda) and Managua (Nicaragua), from 1994 to 1996.

Simon is a seasoned senior executive with more than twenty-five years’ experience delivering strategic leadership on development and development policies. He excels in fast-paced, high-pressure environments and executing complex operations in challenging settings around the world. He has extensive experience in leading policy work and has published on issues central to the development agenda with a strong emphasis on development impact, climate change and development effectiveness.

Simon is currently the Director for Delivery, Performance Management and Results. In this capacity he oversees the delivery of results on the Bank’s $10 billion annual investments across the African continent and engages with the Bank’s Board of Directors and donors on the full complexity of the Bank’s development challenges. In the course of his career, Simon has demonstrated a strong capacity for thought leadership, strategic decision-making and delivering bottom-line results.

He holds a Masters of Philosophy degree in Political Sciences and International Relations, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom (1991) and a Masters in Politics, Philosophy and Economy (PPE), Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences-Po), France (1990).

Commenting on his appointment President Akinwumi Adesina said “I am pleased that Simon has stepped into this role to provide strong leadership and support for the Department until a substantive Director is appointed. He is known for delivering results and building effective partnerships and networks to effectively communicate and advance the work of the Bank”.

*AfDB

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How can Africa’s fashion entrepreneurs access finance to grow their businesses?
December 17, 2020 | 0 Comments

Enhancing access to finance for Africa’s fashion entrepreneurs is critical if the industry is to develop its full potential and tap global markets in a post-COVID-19 world. That was the topline  message at a Fashionomics Africa webinar hosted on 10 December by the African Development Bank and the HEVA Fund.

 

Roughly 150 fashion entrepreneurs and creative minds attended the fourth edition of the Fashionomics series, focused on finance. The discussion covered the challenges faced by fashion entrepreneurs, especially women and youth, in Africa’s creative industries.

 

Participants were also presented with opportunities to access finance from investment funds including the Alithea IDF Fund, for which the African Development Bank is an anchor investor; the Women’s Investment Club (WIC) Capital; the African ExportImport Bank; the State Bank of Mauritius; Thundafund and Senegalese clothing brand, SARAYAA.

 

Vanessa Moungar, Bank Director for Gender, Women and Civil Society said the ongoing pandemic has prompted adaptations and innovations to keep Africa’s $31 billion fashion industry thriving.

 

“The crisis provides an opportunity to set up targeted support mechanisms and develop new and innovative financial tools for the textile, apparel and accessories industry that will not only help the entrepreneurs make it through, but set the basis for them to grow their businesses going forward,” she said.

 

Evelyne Dioh Simpa, managing director at WIC Capital, which invests in businesses run by women in Francophone West Africa, stressed the importance of developing financial products and capacity building tailored to fashion entrepreneurs.

 

Safiétou Seck, founder and creative director of SARAYAA recently attracted $230,000 in investment from WIC Capital to expand operations and grow the brand.

 

“For me, banking was the best option to scale up my business. My advice would be: be patient, you are going to be rejected many times, but fashion is going to make you stick with it,” Seck said of trying to raise capital.

 

New solutions, including alternative financing channels, will be key for fashion entrepreneurs, said Matt Roberts-Davies, chief operating officer of Thundafund, South Africa’s leading online crowdfunding marketplace for creatives and innovators.

 

He encouraged entrepreneurs to be brave. “Put yourself out there and find the crowd of people that loves what you do,” he said.

 

Fashionomics Africa promotes investments in the textile and fashion sectors by leveraging data, information and communication technologies to drive development. The initiative also aims to increase entrepreneurs’ access to finance via traditional and non-traditional channels, while providing business skills to start-up founder and staff as well as to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.

 

The Fashionomics Africa webinar series is available for fashion entrepreneurs, digital enthusiasts and creative minds on the Fashionomics platform (available on both iOS and Android). To watch previous episodes, click here.

*AfDB

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Road users in Ghana see life-changing impact as Bank-funded jumbo road interchange partially opens
December 14, 2020 | 0 Comments

Pointing overhead to the imposing structure of concrete pillars and tiered, swirling highways, 63-year-old Ayorkor Baka, like many others, welcomes the new interchange, saying it will cut pedestrian fatalities on the road linking Accra and Nsawam.

The bridge, the first of its kind in West Africa, is a crucial link between the capital and the middle belt via Ghana’s second-largest city of Kumasi. Overall, the interchange is 87% complete, according to the site engineers. They have announced plans to gradually open the facility in phases until its full completion in March 2021.

Four years ago, Baka lost her 11-year-old granddaughter on the same stretch of road. The girl died from injuries three days after she was hit by a vehicle while crossing the highway.

“The sight of this new bridge gives me mixed feelings – but what matters to me most is that it has come to save lives. It is a significant means to ending the carnage on the road,” Baka said. The new interchange is designed to separate high-speed traffic from pedestrian road users and has footbridges for safe crossings.

Official records show that at least 15 people were killed and several others were injured on the stretch of highway in the last four years. In one incident, two people died instantly when an articulated truck rammed into seven other cars, causing a pile-up.

The African Development Fund, the concessional arm of the African Development Bank Group provided a $83.9 million loan for the construction of the four-tier Pokuase Interchange and other upgrading work, which began in March 2018 and is expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2021.

On 25 November 2020, Ghana’s President Nana Akufo Addo partially opened the bridge to ease traffic congestion.

The works form part of the Accra Urban Transport Project (AUTP) approved by the Bank in 2016 to promote efficient and safe movement of goods and people in and out of Ghana’s capital city, boost trade along the connecting routes and improve the people’s livelihoods.

The project’s beneficiaries are local factories and agro-industries, transporters and travelers on the Accra-Kumasi road corridor, which is the main transit route for food produced in Ghana’s middle belt breadbasket to Accra.

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0624.JPG

The project, which aligns to the Bank’s High-5 priorities on regional integration and improving the quality of life for the people of Africa, forms part of the wider Ghana-Burkina Faso road corridor.

In addition to the interchange, the AUTP entails the construction of 10 km of roads, 5 km of storm drains, the relocation of electricity, water and telephone utilities, and facilities to safeguard the environment. The project also provides ICT equipment and training for 14 schools in the area and supports two women’s groups in using ICT to improve their microbusiness.

Like granny Baka, trucker Foster Adadevoh says the bridge and associated works will greatly impact livelihoods, not only in the local communities but also to the benefit of commuters and traders, especially women carting perishable foodstuffs from the forest belt to the capital.

“Motorists like me can now heave a sigh of relief…it’s also a great relief to my customers. Sometimes, we spend more than an hour in this part of the traffic,” said Adadevoh, who hauls crates of tomatoes from northern Ghana to the capital.

Such projects form an essential part of improving the lives of Africans. According to the Bank’s 2020 Annual Development Effectiveness Review, quality of life has gradually improved on the continent, in part as a result of Bank-funded projects, in particular access to infrastructure.

The report highlights the role that roads have played in communities. Around the Awoshi-Pokuase road, for example, 103,000 people gained access to a clean water source and monthly household spending increased by 10%. The 14 km road financed by the Bank was completed in 2016. The report cautions, however, that not all improvements in living conditions are directly attributed to Bank investments.

“In 2018, when we broke the ground for this project, we were talking about a concept, but today we are talking about a reality that will greatly impact on livelihoods,” Resident Engineer Kwabena Bempong said.

The African Development Bank’s portfolio in Ghana is valued at around $800 million since 2013, with around 40.4% of its funding supporting the country’s transport sector. Notable among the projects is the Kotoka International Airport Terminal 3, which opened to travelers in September 2018. Other sectors it supports are agriculture, at 31.7%; multi-sector at 10.6%; as well as power, water and sanitation and finance.

*AfDB

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African Development Bank’s Akinwumi Adesina, three others win Academy of Public Health’s 2020 top Distinguished Fellowship Award
December 14, 2020 | 0 Comments

The Academy of Public Health, the flagship body of the West African Institute of Public Health, has named African Development Bank Group President Akinwumi Adesina and three other eminent persons as winners of its 2020 Distinguished Fellowship Award.

Adesina, World Health Organisation (WHO)’s Tedros Ghebreyesus, Leith Greenslade of JustActions and Winnie Byanyima of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, were nominated by young public health professionals across Africa for their demonstrated leadership in working to ensure equity, better health and wellbeing for all.

The four have been recognized for their style of transformative leadership which inspires emerging young leaders in public health to strive to make a difference in their work, the Academy said in a statement at the weekend.

“Dr. Akinwumi Adesina of the African Development Bank was particularly recognized for his action leadership in quickly moving the AfDB to provide the financial bulwark to the African Union as well as some of its member states to help curb Africa’s COVID-19 pandemic. He was also noted for engendering thought leadership through the AfDB to shape actions in the COVID and post COVID era for Africa’s economies and health systems.”

The Distinguished Fellowship Award is the highest fellowship rank in the “Roll of Fellows “of the Academy, leading the Roll of Fellows for their exceptional leadership and service to humanity in making a difference in the lives of people and inspiring young leaders to also excel in their public health work.”

Ghebreyesus won for leading the WHO to provide an equity-focused COVID-19 response that leaves no one behind, including his approaches towards eliminating “vaccine nationalism” in the wake of the pandemic, while Greenslade was recognized for leading a global awareness on childhood pneumonia, leveraging on public-private and philanthropic partnerships.  Byanyima was chosen for her “unwavering” work to ensure that HIV/AIDS key populations impacted by COVID-19 are not forgotten.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a ceremony to honor the recipients will be held in 2021, the Academy said, adding that the recipients were being notified of their recognition and date for a virtual investiture.

“I am greatly honored to be selected to receive the Distinguished Fellowship of the West African Academy of Public Health together with Dr. Tedros, Winnie Byanyima and Leith Greenslade! Africa and the rest of the world will overcome this pandemic against all odds”, Adesina said.

The West African Institute of Public Health is the leading regional non-state health development organization working in enabling environment, professional training and education, research standards, consulting and advisory services. The Institute is a membership-based body that focuses on building a strong network of highly skilled and competent public health practitioners. It is also the keeper of the regional charter of public health.

*AfDB

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IRENA and African Development Bank Partner to Scale up Renewables Investments in Africa
December 9, 2020 | 0 Comments

“The Bank’s partnership with IRENA will support Africa’s energy transition and our goal to achieve universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy in Africa by 2030.” – Bank VP Kevin Kariuki

“This agreement represents the type of coordinated international cooperation that is the cornerstone of the realisation of sustainable development in Africa and the achievement of Paris Agreement goals.” –IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera.

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 09 December 2020 – The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), and the African Development Bank (AfDB), have agreed to work closely together to advance the continent’s energy transition through joint initiatives that support investments in low-carbon energy projects.

Under the Declaration of Intent, the two entities confirmed their wish to collaborate on supporting the continent’s energy transition under a framework of core activities. These include co-organising renewable energy investment forums as part of IRENA’s contribution to the Climate Investment Platform, and collaboration on the Bank’s annual Africa Investment Forum. Furthermore, strong emphasis will be placed on concrete support for enhancing the role of renewable energy in Nationally Determined Contributions and sustainable development objectives.

The joint declaration was signed by Francesco La Camera, Director-General of IRENA, and Kevin Kanina Kariuki, Vice-President, Power, Energy, Climate and Green Growth at the African Development Bank.

Mr. Kariuki said: “Driven by the aspiration to harness Africa’s huge renewable energy potential, the African Development Bank is today at the forefront of investing in renewable energy in Africa. The Bank’s partnership with IRENA will advance this aspiration and support Africa’s energy transition and our goal to achieve universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy in Africa by 2030.”

IRENA’s Global Renewables Outlook report, released earlier this year, revealed that sub-Saharan Africa could generate 67 per cent of its power from indigenous and clean renewable energy sources by 2030. Further analysis shows that the energy transition would boost GDP, improve welfare and stimulate up to 2 million additional green jobs in sub-Saharan Africa by 2050.

Mr. La Camera said: “The African continent has some of the most abundant renewable energy resources in the world and the potential to transform outcomes for millions of people through the accelerated deployment of a renewables-based energy system. Renewables will increase energy security, create green jobs, advance energy access, including clean cooking, and help build resilient African economies.

“This agreement represents the type of coordinated international cooperation that is the cornerstone of the realisation of sustainable development in Africa and the achievement of Paris Agreement goals,” he continued. “We will pursue an action-oriented agenda that puts African countries on a path to realising their full renewable energy potential.”

The declaration also provides for collaboration on the African Development Bank’s Desert to Power Initiative, which aims to mobilise public and private funding to install 10 GW of solar power by 2025 in 11 countries in the Sahel region of the African continent.

The two institutions will also engage in capacity building and knowledge exchange activities to reinforce joint efforts and cooperate on developing regional and national renewable energy case studies.

About the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)

IRENA is the lead intergovernmental agency for the energy transformation that supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future, and serves as the principal platform for international co-operation, a centre of excellence, and a repository of policy, technology, resource and financial knowledge on renewable energy. With 162 Members (161 States and the European Union) and 22 additional countries in the accession process and actively engaged, IRENA promotes the widespread adoption and sustainable use of all forms of renewable energy in the pursuit of sustainable development, energy access, energy security and low-carbon economic growth and prosperity.

*AfDB

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African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina inducted Honorary Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria.
December 5, 2020 | 0 Comments

Remarks of Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, at the 2020 Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) Fellowship Investiture

Saturday December 5, 2020

Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, President of the African Development Bank

Your Excellency, Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State, Mr. Ernest Ebi, Chairman of the occasion, Mr. Bayo Olugbemi, FCIB, the President and Chairman of the Council of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, Mr. Seye Awojobi, FCIB, the Registrar of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, Mr. Kunle Elebute, Guest Speaker, Members of Council of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, Honorees, Investees, distinguished ladies and gentlemen.

Good afternoon to you all. What a great event, so extremely well organized. That’s the Nigerian gold standard!

It’s such a great honor to be here today, virtually, along with all my co-awardees, to be decorated with the emblems of admission and recognition as Honorary Fellows of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria.

I would like on behalf of all the awardees to express our deepest gratitude and appreciation to the President and Chairman of Council, Mr. Bayo Olugbemi, the Registrar and Chief Executive, Mr. ‘Seye Awojobi and the entire members of the Council of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, for this great recognition and honor you have bestowed on us. 

It is such a memorable occasion to be recognized as Honorary Fellows by such an eminent and revered institution, the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria.

I am very proud of each of my co-Honorees for your many years of leadership and distinguished contributions to the banking profession.

No one should ever work to be recognized. But when efforts and contributions are recognized, it inspires one to continue to work even harder.

Honorary awards are deposits of trust. They come with great responsibility. Responsibility to be exemplary, to work selflessly, and to be role models in the profession and for the society.

Today, as we are being honored, consider us as “security-backed assets”. Our integrity is our honor, and our honor is our security. 

We wish to express to the Council of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria our commitment to carry these awards with dignity, integrity and honor.

Leadership from each one of us is needed in these challenging times of the coronavirus pandemic.

So many lives have been lost. Economies have been devastated. Africa’s economic growth this year will decline by 3.4%. Globally, economies have gone into recession, as global trade, financial flows, investments, tourism and global supply chains have been disrupted. Millions of jobs have been lost. Consumer demand and business investments have declined. With huge fiscal stimulus packages, interest rates are at all-time lows.

These are tough times for Bankers.

Yet, we must be bold, resilient and weather the storm.

The African Development Bank launched a $10 billion crisis response facility to provide immediate liquidity for countries to meet urgent financing needs.

The Bank also launched a $3 billion fight COVID19 social bond on global capital markets, the largest US dollar denominated social bond ever in world history, which is now listed on the London Stock Exchange, Luxembourg stock exchange and on Nasdaq.

I am delighted that despite the very challenging times, the African Development Bank maintained its triple-A ratings, with stable outlook, by all major global credit rating agencies, Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s and Fitch Ratings.

The African Development Bank has maintained its stellar triple-A ratings for five years in a row since I was first elected President in 2015.

The African Development Bank also achieved an increase in its capital from $93 billion to $208 billion, the largest ever capital increase in the history of the Bank since its establishment in 1964.

The African Development Bank therefore stands ready to strongly support African countries, financial institutions and the private sector to accelerate Africa’s economic growth.

Times like this need audacious leadership.

Leadership that is able to navigate complexities and restore hope and confidence, to grow back, safer, healthier and with greater resilience.

That is the kind of leadership I see among the Honorary Fellows and Awardees and the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria.

Now, let us arise and collectively support Nigeria to recover and build back, stronger, better, with greater economic resilience. Let’s join hands and deliver greater prosperity and hope for Nigeria.  

For Nigeria to be at its best, it deserves the best from all of us.

As Honorary Fellows, we promise to continue to be beacons of hope, carrying with dignity the green and gold emblems of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria.

I wish to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy Christmas ahead and a prosperous and healthier New Year 2021.

Stay safe, stay well and stay healthy.

Once again, thank you very much. God bless you all.

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The African Development Bank launches $50 million facility to support energy access companies through and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic
December 5, 2020 | 0 Comments

Dr. Kevin Kariuki, African Development Bank’s Vice President for Power, Energy, Climate and Green Growth

The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank has approved a $20 million concessional investment from the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) to establish the COVID-19 Off-Grid Recovery Platform (CRP). The $50 million blended finance initiative, will provide relief and recovery capital to energy access businesses, supporting them through and beyond the pandemic.

The platform is anchored on a partnership with three specialized energy access fund managers selected through a competitive process: Triple Jump, Lion’s Head Global Partners, and Social Investment Managers and Advisors.  The $20 million concessional envelope will be blended with their own capital and instruments, leveraging $30-$40 million in complementary commercial funding and enabling more affordable debt products. Through these partners, the recovery platform will support energy access companies commercializing and deploying solar home systems, green mini-grids, clean cooking and other decentralized renewable energy solutions. 

“This initiative underlines the African Development Bank’s commitment to the accelerated growth of Africa’s decentralized energy industry, based on renewables, as a key driver for universal energy access goals,” said Dr. Kevin Kariuki, the African Development Bank’s Vice President for Power, Energy, Climate and Green Growth.

Joao Duarte Cunha, Division Manager for Renewable Energy at the African Development Bank, said the platform would fill a gap in the market.

“Understanding that time is of essence, this platform will enable the provision of tailored financial solutions by leveraging existing resources, expertise and infrastructure within the sector,” he said. In addition to providing immediate relief and recovery support, the platform will lay the foundation for a green and inclusive economic recovery post-pandemic.

“We are pleased to be selected to co-manage the COVID-19 Off-Grid Recovery Platform, which will be blended with funding from the Energy Entrepreneurs Growth Fund. The combination of funding and operational support will stabilize businesses and allow for continued investments during the COVID-19 crisis, mitigating the impact of the pandemic on energy access companies and set a sustainable trajectory for growth,” said Jan-Henrik Kuhlmann, Head of Sustainable Energy at Triple Jump.

Reflecting on the potential impact of the capital provided, Asad Mahmood, CEO and Managing Partner of Social Investment Managers and Advisors, said: “CRP is a much-needed and appreciated innovative effort of the Bank to use multiple fund managers to assist with liquidity needs of good energy businesses in Africa, currently affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The relief and recovery capital will support businesses in mitigating the impacts of the pandemic and ensuring a robust commercial recovery of the industry, and has been endorsed by leading industry associations, including the Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE), Africa Mini-Grid Developers Association (AMDA) and the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association (GOGLA).

“The Bank’s new instrument is a game changer that will sustain and strengthen the African energy access sector. The platform’s innovative co-investment structure allows fund managers like Lion’s Head to focus on what we do best – mobilizing and deploying human and financial capital to unlock sustainable power for vulnerable communities while targeting critical post-pandemic issues such as local currency funding in a period of high uncertainty and volatility,” said Harry Guinness, Managing Director of the Off-Grid Energy Access Fund, part of the wider Facility for Energy Inclusion.

The Board approval was granted on 1 December.

About SEFA: SEFA is an AfDB-managed special fund providing catalytic finance for renewable energy. SEFA’s overarching goal is to contribute to universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy services for all in Africa, in line with the Bank’s New Deal on Energy for Africa and Sustainable Development Goal 7. SEFA was established in 2011 in partnership with the Government of Denmark and has since received contributions from the Governments of United StatesUnited KingdomItalyNorwaySpain, and Sweden(Nordic Development Fund and Germany. SEFA is housed in the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Department (PERN) under the Power, Energy, Climate, and Green Growth (PEVP) complex.

*AfDB

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COVID-19 pandemic offers African aviation a chance to reset
December 5, 2020 | 0 Comments

  • The air transport system is really at the forefront of all our collective objectives to realize Africa as a single economic bloc – VP Solomon Quaynor
  • Nearly 5 million of Africa’s 7 million aviation and tourism industry-related jobs have been lost in 2020

Africa’s aviation industry represents a huge market that the continent’s airlines need to exploit more fully, with technology and AI offering the way forward for expansion, regional development experts said Thursday.

“Technology and smart technologies are offering this fantastic opportunity, so let’s make use of AI, let’s make use of the Internet of Things, let’s capacitate our people to revamp and to rethink our industry, to make sure that both our airports and our airlines cater for the very near future,”  said Dr. Amani Abou Zeid, African Union Commission for Infrastructure and Energy, during the opening session of a virtual workshop.

The workshop, held on 3 December, was organized by the African Development Bank under the theme, African Aviation Recovery Conference: coordinating an efficient response to the COVID-19 crisis’s effects on the Aviation sector in Africa.

Discussions touched on a number of challenges, including the urgent need of African airlines for government-supported loans, and other financial assistance in the short term, as well as the imperative to ensure that public health is a factor in efforts to build the sector back better and more competitively. 

Dr. Fang Liu, Secretary General of the International Civil Aviation Organization, the Nigerian Government’s Minister for Aviation Hadi Sirika and the Bank’s Vice President for Infrastructure, Industrialization and Private Sector, Solomon Quaynor, also made statements.

Sirika called on African governments to embrace full liberalisation of the aviation sector, invoking the Yamoussoukro Decision, which established an arrangement for the gradual liberalization of intra-Africa air transport services. “Nigeria today has all its bilateral air service agreements with the YD and was also among the first ten countries that signed a commitment to implement the Single African Air Transport Market,” he said   SAATM, a mechanism of the Yamoussoukro Decision, is an African Union flagship project to create a single unified air transport market in Africa that will advance the continent’s economic integration agenda.   

Quaynor emphasised the centrality of the aviation sector to Africa’s long-term goals by referencing three flagship projects of the AU’s Agenda 2063 that aim to advance open skies and closer connectivity: SAATM, The African Continental Free Trade Area, and the African Passport-Free movement of people.

“The air transport system is really at the forefront of all our collective objectives to realize Africa as a single economic bloc of 1.3 billion people with a GDP of almost 3 trillion dollars, for which we want to begin to really focus and increase trade among ourselves, as well as investment.”

The conference took the form of four sessions discussing the priority needs of airlines and airports aviation services companies, as well as needed policy actions and strengthening the sector’s access to finance. 

In a presentation, the Bank Director’s for Infrastructure and Urban Development, Amadou Oumarou, made clear that the sector had been ailing even prior to the onset of the pandemic, plagued by market restrictions and high prices, as well as a poor record of safety and security. Of the 200 airlines the EU had blacklisted in 2016, over 50% were African.  

The pandemic’s aviation effects, while felt worldwide, have been sharpest in Africa, Oumarou said, a claim that was backed up by numerous panelists.  Nearly 5 million of the continent’s 7 million aviation and tourism industry-related jobs have been lost in 2020, in addition to as much as $15 billion in revenue, half of this to African airlines.

The wide-ranging discussions touched on whether African airlines needed to consolidate to be viable, and offered numerous recommendations and solutions. These included adopting aircraft leasing and other innovative practices to cut costs and build efficiencies, strengthening freight operations, which have been less hard  hit than passenger traffic, and seizing direct opportunities presented by the imminent need to distribute COVID-19 vaccines across Africa. 

Underpinning much of the discussion was the need to make public health and security a central element of the post COVID-19 recovery, as a path to restoring confidence.

A key takeaway was the urgent need for coordinated action among the sector’s actors, including governments, aviation authorities and multilateral stakeholders such as the Bank.

“The time is now. All of us who have really been working on upstream issues such as SAATM, the World Bank, ourselves, the AU and others, now is the time to really pool our advocacy and resources to make this happen once and for all because if we continue to operate as a federation of 54 states as opposed to an integrated market, our economies will continue to be sub-optimal,” said Quaynor.

*AfDB

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