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Africa cannot afford LOCUST-19
May 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Akinwumi A. Adesina *

 President Akinwumi A. Adesina
President Akinwumi A. Adesina

We are in a battle against time to curb the COVID-19 pandemic. While tackling the Coronavirus pandemic has grabbed global attention, a new crisis that could claim a lot more lives is brewing in Africa: massive locust invasions.

Billions of desert locusts are ravaging countries all across East Africa, including Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda, and Djibouti. It has been reported that their numbers are likely to increase by up to 400 times by June 2020, reaching crisis levels.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has estimated that unless quickly controlled, 5 million additional people in East Africa will be hungry by June.

An unprecedented race against time has begun to urgently stop the progression and potentially devastating impact of the deadly twins: COVID-19 and the locusts for millions in Africa.

We all know that rains are good for crops. But then when good rains also caused favorable breeding environments for locusts, the joy of rains has suddenly turned hopes of expected plenty into glooms of hunger.  Is the best of times becoming the worst of times?

Locust breeding populations have increased massively. The locust plague moves with devastating effects: imagine a carpet of locusts of up to 150 million locusts covering a square kilometer. And think about it, that they can consume crops in one day that can feed approximately 35,000 people. In East Africa, where FAO estimates that some 20 million people are already food insecure, the effects will be devastating.

The locust crisis emerges as the continent is dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. These are tough odds to face.

Today, distressfully, choices for millions of the poor are oddly similar: to stay in confinement and escape dying from Coronavirus or dying from hunger staying at home.

It is already playing out. Food riots broke out a few days ago in Kibera, the largest slum in Kenya, as people trampled over each other, defying social distancing – prescribed to stem the spread of the Coronavirus – to get food. Coronavirus could kill, but hunger kills many more people.

With the lockdowns for the COVID-19 pandemic, pest control workers are largely unable to go out to spray. While restrictions have been lifted to allow aircrafts used to spray to operate, they can do little as they are largely unable to get access to the chemicals, due to disruption of supply chains.

It appears that those who escape the COVID-19 will soon face LOCUST-19. In East Africa alone, the number of hungry people could jump to 30 million people.

There are several lifesaving recommendations we can act on now. These include one, the creation of a “green channel” for the free flow of food and agricultural inputs and pesticides to control pest attacks. Two, putting in place measures to prevent food price hikes by releasing food from government grain reserves and implementing anti-hoarding policies. Three, rapidly scaling up food production technologies, including high-yielding, early-maturing, drought-tolerant, disease- and pest-resistant staple crops, and programs such as the African Development Bank’s flagship program, the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) initiative.

The good news is that the African Development Bank has joined the FAO as the frontrunners in this unprecedented race against time. The Bank has just approved a $1.5 million grant to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the FAO to support efforts to spray against the locusts and safeguard livelihoods in the East and the Horn of Africa. More help will be needed.

The last thing Africa needs now, as we are battling with the COVID-19 pandemic, is a hunger pandemic.

COVID-19 has taken the international community on an unpredictable journey. Thankfully, we can preclude and halt the locust crisis. For that to happen, we all must rally around the FAO to provide the $153 million needed.

COVID-19 cannot be followed by LOCUST-19.

* Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina is President of the African Development Bank

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Olive groves and businesses boom as rural Moroccans get on the grid
May 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

A Bank-backed electricity scheme has helped Moroccans turn on lights across the country.

Kindergarten teacher Fatima Zahera Hagou remembers how, less than a generation ago, when the sun went down over the Moroccan countryside, her rural village of Dar Laain ground to a halt as locals bedded down for the night.

Nowadays, her village, some 25 km southwest of Marrakech, bustles with life after dark, thanks to the expansion of the electricity grid. Residents have benefited from youth clubs, a communal bathhouse and an industrious women’s farming collective.

“I cannot imagine life in the village without electricity. It helps them a lot. It helps them improve their produce and become more efficient,” said Hagou. “It brings us hope.”

In recent years, the African Development Bank has invested $200 million in Morocco’s effort to expand its electricity grid and give residents of remote towns and villages a chance to open businesses and increase farming yields.

Over two decades, the scheme has connected some 40,000 villages to the grid. In 1995, only about a fifth of Morocco was hooked up.

Hassan Lissigui, a regional head of the National Electricity Office, said one-third of Moroccans can now access a transformative power source.

“The impacts are real. They are measurable. A welder, for example, cannot operate without electricity. The same goes for a farmer,” Lissigui said.

While Morocco has struggled with relatively high rates of joblessness, the expansion of the grid has boosted a $299 billion economy that grew by 2.7 per cent in 2019, according to World Bank data.

When Ahmed Hassani, a married father of four, inherited farmland from his parents in Douar Bou Azza, another village outside Marrakech, the only available water source was an old well, and its dry soils yielded little produce.

“We used to have very little activity, but thanks to electricity we solved the problems related to irrigation,” said Hassani.

“In recent years, olive production has increased significantly. Barley production as well.”

Nowadays, Hassani rides a scooter beside olive groves that have grown more lush and verdant thanks to the electricity-powered irrigation system. At harvest time, he hires four or five hands to help bring in the crops.

Morocco generates 28.75 billion kWh of electricity for its population of some 36 million people. Fossil fuels account for more than two-thirds of this capacity, the remainder comes from hydroelectric plants and other renewable sources.

Mohamed Dakni, a 32-year-old welder from Douar Bou Azza, is one of the many Moroccans who have benefited from international efforts to finance the country’s network of power stations, cables, pylons and transformers.

“My business has grown. I can now afford to work on my art and expand my clientele,” said Dakni.

“I used to make small objects that I sold for a cheap price at the market. Today I can develop my business, my creativity, and make a better living.”

Dakni, who wears goggles in a ramshackle studio when welding together model camels, cacti and other attractive home furnishings, said he had seen many improvements in the area.

“We now have access to roads, electricity and water,” he said. “And the next generation will bring its own set of changes. That’s how it goes.”


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African Development Institute to rally African policy planning for macroeconomic resilience against COVID-19 pandemic
May 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

The African Development Institute of the African Development Bank will host a virtual seminar on Wednesday, 29 April 2020 to develop responses to macroeconomic policy challenges facing Africa nations in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like elsewhere, African countries are not spared the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on their national health systems, economies, trade, cultures, societies and livelihoods. The public and private sectors, individuals and communities are struggling to respond to the pandemic amid commercial lockdowns and disruption of income sources.

The seminar, titled “Enhancing Resilience in African Economies: Macro-Economic Policy Responses to COVID-19 Pandemic in Africa,” seeks to address the macroeconomic implications for African economies as many nations struggle to roll out fiscal stimulus packages to avoid a total collapse and save livelihoods.

Among the participants, are development partners, including colleagues from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, the African Union Commission; United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the United Nations Development Program and representatives of academic institutions. Key speakers include former finance ministers, central bank governors, global experts and Bank Group executives.

The seminar will also address the ways in which COVID-19 has highlighted inequality in the global economy and the vast disparities in the responses by industrialized countries as against those of African countries, which have had to rely on development institutions to implement contingencies.

The African Development Bank has played a lead role in responding to the crisis by rolling out a series of financial and technical measures to cushion African economies and livelihoods. Its primary channel for the interventions is a Response Facility announced 7 April that provides up to $10 billion to governments and the private sector.

The facility comprises $5.5 billion for sovereign operations in African Development Bank countries, $3.1 billion for sovereign and regional operations for countries under the African Development Fund, the Bank Group’s concessional arm that caters to fragile countries and $1.35 billion for private sector operations.     

The Bank also raised $3 billion from a three-year Fight COVID-19 bond in late March, and extended $2 million in grants to the World Health Organization to bolster the capacity of 41 African countries on infection prevention, testing and case management. 

The IMF and the World Bank have also announced COVID-19 response packages that target African economies and health systems.

The Seminar is the first of a series being organized under the auspices of the Global Community of Practice (G-CoP) on COVID-19 Response Strategies, established by ADI to stimulate policy dialogue that will inform Regional Member Countries’ short, medium and long-term policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

ADI, a department of the Bank, is the focal point for the institution’s Capacity Development initiatives. In that role, ADI contributes to efforts at building sustainable capacity for development effectiveness in the institution’s regional member countries.


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African Development Bank’s seed-bulking scheme boosts cassava yields in Zambia
April 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

For centuries, African farmers across the continent have grown cassava. The woody shrub was introduced to Africa from South America by Portuguese traders in the 16th Century and grows well in the continent’s drylands and produces nutritious, calorie-rich meals.

But Zambia’s cassava growers were not deriving as much out of the crop as was possible. Farmers in the southern African country used low-quality planting materials and suffered from poor harvests leading to hunger and poverty across many of the country’s villages.

To help tackle these problems, the African Development Bank, through its Technologies for African Agriculture Transformation in the Savannahs (TAAT-S) flagship initiative, implemented by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), provided Zambian farmers with a solution known as “seed bulking”. This involves collecting seeds from a target crop and then growing them in a controlled setting. Using this method, farmers can multiply their bank of seeds, making them more secure and able to scale-up productivity.

In 2019, ITTA worked with agriculture specialists from the Zambian government and local partners to set up 58 cassava seed-bulking farms, with smallholder farmers managing the local outfits.

Five types of high-yielding cassava seeds were successfully introduced in an effort to boost yields and make the landlocked nation less reliant on food imports.

Operating under the TAAT-S initiative, each seed-bulking farm covered two or three types of high-yielding cassava seeds, to increase productivity to 20-30 tonnes per hectare, from a baseline of below 10 tonnes previously.

The farms were all located near various cassava processing facilities including through the recently constructed cassava milling plant developed by the AfDB-GAFSP financed  Agriculture Productivity and Market Enhancement Project (APMEP).

The scheme is already up and running, and each seed-bulking farm was expected to utilise 174 hectares of land to multiply cassava seeds at the 58 locations spread across a nation of more than 17 million people.

This would translate into the planting of 1,740 hectares of cassava seed farms in 2021, which would generate seeds for cultivation to produce around 43,500 tonnes of cassava root. Once milled into flour, this would represent 10,875 tonnes of food — capable of feeding more than 3.6 million people.

In 2022, the replanting of cuttings from cassava roots would scale up across 17,400 hectares of land to produce some 435,000 tonnes of root the following year. Some 23,000 tonnes of excess root could then be processed into starch, making Zambia less reliant on imports.

The scheme is important because agriculture is a driver of Zambia’s $27.5 billion (2019) economy. The sector provides work for more than half of the country’s workers.

In addition to cassava, Zambian farmers grow corn, sorghum, rice, peanuts, sunflower seeds, vegetables, flowers, tobacco, cotton, sugarcane and coffee. They also rear cattle, goats, pigs and poultry. Almost a third of Zambia’s land is devoted to farming.

Agriculture is one of the Bank’s main focus areas under its “Feed Africa,” High Five priority, which aims to tackle high rates of poverty, unemployment and malnutrition in sub-Saharan Africa.

Climate change has become an added challenge. Flooding, droughts and swarms of locusts have ravaged harvests across Africa in recent years, pushing farmers into poverty and making governments spend more foreign currency on imports.

Experts believe that modified seeds could help millions of smallholder farmers to get bigger harvests and earn extra cash. Getting improved seeds to more farmers will also help lower food prices, make it easier for parents to feed their children and therefore reduce malnutrition and other health concerns.


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African Development Bank debars China Zhonghao Nigeria Limited for 18 months for fraudulent practices
April 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, 20 April 2020 – The African Development Bank Group on 14 April 2020, announced the debarment of China Zhonghao Nigeria Limited, a civil engineering company registered in Nigeria, for 18 months, for fraudulent practices.

An investigation conducted by the Bank’s Office of Integrity and Anti-Corruption established that China Zhonghao Nigeria Limited, as a member of a joint venture with Oceanic Construction and Engineering Nigeria Ltd., was jointly responsible for its joint venture partner’s fraudulent misrepresentations of its year of incorporation, the value of its reference contracts, and the experience of its key personnel, while bidding for two tenders under the Bank-financed Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Improvement Project in Nigeria.

The debarment renders China Zhonghao Nigeria Limited and its affiliates ineligible to participate in Bank-financed projects during the debarment period. The debarment qualifies for cross-debarment by other multilateral development banks under the Agreement for Mutual Enforcement of Debarment Decisions, including the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank Group.

At the expiry of the debarment period, China Zhonghao Nigeria Limited will only be eligible to participate in Bank-financed projects on condition that it implements an integrity compliance program consistent with the Bank’s guidelines.

In June 2019, the Bank debarred Oceanic Construction and Engineering Nigeria Ltd. for a period of 48 months, for related fraudulent practices –

The Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Improvement Project is financed under the African Development Fund, an entity of the African Development Bank Group and aims at enhancing access to safe water supply services in the Nigerian states of Oyo and Taraba through, among other components, extension and rehabilitation works on the water transmission and distribution network.

The Office of Integrity and Anti-Corruption of the African Development Bank Group is responsible for preventing, deterring and investigating allegations of corruption, fraud and other sanctionable practices in Bank Group-financed operations.

For more information visit


African Development Bank staff and the general public can use secured hotlines to report sanctionable practices within the Bank or operations financed by the Bank Group.

Secured telephone: +1 (770) 776-5658     

Secured email server:

Mail correspondence should be marked “CONFIDENTIAL” and sent to:

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Office of Integrity and Anti-Corruption

Immeuble  du Centre de commerce International d’Abidjan CCIA

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African Development Bank strongly rebuts claims that it plans to provide financial support to the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Project
April 18, 2020 | 0 Comments

ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire, April 18, 2020,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- The African Development Bank has become aware of an inaccurate news article stating that the institution plans to provide financial support to the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Project.

The Bank strongly refutes the claims in the misleading article, which references a letter by a group of civil society organizations and climate change advocates asking the institution to withdraw from the project due to its potential social and environmental damage.

Here are the facts:

  1. The NEPAD Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility (NEPAD-IPPF) has not provided financing to any Private Sector Company for upstream oil or gas pipeline projects in East Africa.
  2. No commitment was therefore made to any party to fund the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Project. The project is not included in the Bank’s lending program.
  3. The Bank is strongly committed to renewable energies.

It is important to point out that the African Development Bank Group has for more than a decade played a leading role in crafting policies and delivering investments that promote sustainable development practices on the continent, including climate adaptation and resilience.

The Bank is committed to facilitating the transition to low-carbon and climate-resilient development in African countries across all its operational priority areas.

From commitment to action
These commitments are articulated in the range of strategies, policies and action plans which are aligned to all Bank operations and are available to the public. In 2019, approximately 36% of total financial approvals were directed to climate action. The African Development Bank further commits to doubling its climate finance to $25 billion between 2020 and 2025. Furthermore, the Bank is joining forces with the other Multilateral Development Banks to design a framework that ensures that all our investments align with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

100% renewable projects and sustainable, low-emission agriculture and infrastructure
The Bank has prioritized investment in renewables and has not invested in any coal project in the past decade as it sees renewable energy as the future. Since the launch of the Bank’s Strategy for the New Deal on Energy in 2016, up to 2019 renewable energy projects constitute about 85% percent on average of the Bank’s power generation investments. The Bank is working closely with African countries to realize their renewable energy potential and has developed dedicated programs and instruments to achieve this goal.

Upholding the principles of inclusion, participation, ownership, transparency and accountability
The Bank recognizes and appreciates the critical role that civil society organisations play in promoting transparency and accountability in all spheres of development for the common good of grassroot communities. The African Development Bank has made significant strides and continues to enhance its engagement of Civil Society and Community Based Organisations, through information sharing and regular exchanges on various platforms such as the Civil Society Open Days, the Annual Civil Society Forum and many other fora.
The Bank will, therefore, continue to work with its shareholders, its clients and civil society organisations, to ensure that it upholds the highest standards.
The institution remains focused on its core mission to help lift millions out of poverty, by using the resources entrusted to it in a responsible and efficient manner.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of the African Development Bank.

Contact: Nafissatou Diouf, Ag Director of Communication and External Relations Department, African Development Bank, email:

Source : African Media Agency (AMA)

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African Development Bank’s SEFA grants $760,000 to develop small-scale renewable energy projects across Sub Saharan Africa
April 17, 2020 | 0 Comments

ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire, April 17, 2020,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- The African Development Bank-managed Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA), has approved a $760,000 grant to Empower New Energy AS (EmNEW), to develop at least eight small renewable energy projects with capacity ranging from1-10 MW, towards bankability and construction. 

The grant will support a broad range of project preparation and development activities, including technical feasibility studies, legal due diligence, environmental and social impact assessment, quality assurance and risk management.

Through its Empower Invest fund, EmNEW invests in small and medium-scale renewable energy projects in Africa, with a focus on solar power, hybrid, and hydro technologies.

Welcoming the approval, Terje Osmundsen, EmNEW’s CEO, said, “We are very excited to be entering into a partnership with the African Development Bank and SEFA. There is a large number of strong small or medium scale projects across Africa that remain unrealised because they can’t access competitive financing. Our approach allows us to bridge this gap and working with SEFA, will help us to accelerate this process and support more high-quality projects. Together, we can bring impactful investment to Africa, while helping the continent to meet its electrification, carbon-reduction, and sustainable development targets.”

 The Bank’s support to EmNEW through SEFA is fully aligned with SEFA’s strategy to tackle challenges faced by smaller renewable energy projects in many African countries in accessing financing to cover their initial development costs, the Bank’s Acting Director for Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Daniel Schroth noted.

Drawing on high-quality local partnerships in Africa, EmNEW invests in renewable energy projects through competitive equity to small and medium scale projects which helps to reduce the time and resources required to finance projects while delivering environmental and social impact.

“Accelerated deployment of distributed solar power and small hydropower is one of the fastest and most cost-efficient ways to bridge the energy access gap, fight climate change and promote sustainable development in Sub-Saharan Africa,” said Wale Shonibare, the Bank’s Acting Vice President for Power, Energy, Climate and Green Growth.

EmNEW has regional offices in Kenya and Ghana, with projects expected to unlock up to $500 million in renewable energy investment, reduce CO2 emissions by 320,000 tons, create 20,000 new jobs, and eventually produce 585 GWh of clean electricity.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of the African Development Bank. 

Contact: Kwasi Kpodo, Communication and External Relations Department, African Development Bank. Email:

Technical contact: Joao Duarte Cunha, Division Manager, Renewable Energy

Source : African Media Agency (AMA)

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COVID-19 pandemic bolsters case for technology-based economic resilience
April 14, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Stefan Nalletamby*

African Development Bank has raised an exceptional $3 billion, three-year bond to help alleviate the economic and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a devastating impact globally, the African continent, while less affected, is preparing to undergo its own severe social and economic crisis. As of April 7, over 10,000 cases have been reported across 52 countries in Africa (less than 1% of cases globally).

Yet despite the slow onset, Africa’s fragile health systems will be overwhelmed if the virus continues to spread. To avoid this scenario, governments are implementing contingency measures with striking collateral damage in the form of shops and factories closing, workers being sent home, and jobs being cut, with the effect that an economic recession is looming.

In response, the African Development Bank has raised an exceptional $3 billion, three-year bond to help alleviate the economic and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. A portion of these funds will help finance access to health and other essential goods and services as well as the infrastructure needed to address the crisis and create favourable conditions for resilience.

The Bank believes that digital technologies can and will play a critical role in strengthening resilience by enabling fast responses to this crisis while helping alleviate its impact.

There are a number of specific use cases where digital technologies help create an enabling environment for human resilience during these difficult times.

A shift to a cashless economy

Physical money currently acts as a vector for the virus’ spread whereas technology makes payments possible and safe. Governments and start-ups across Africa are implementing measures to shift payment transactions toward mobile money and away from cash, as recommended by the World Health Organization. A case in point is Kenya, the pioneer of mobile money, where the payments industry has collaborated to ensure that digital payments can be made across the board, especially by the most vulnerable. For a three-month period, digital transactions below 1,000 Kenya Shillings ($10) will be free.

Ghana too has instituted measures to drive digital payments and combat the virus. The Central Bank of Ghana has directed mobile money providers to waive fees on transactions of 100 Ghana Cedis ($18) or less and has allowed for the opening of mobile money accounts using existing subscriber registrations with mobile operators. South African fintech start-ups are encouraging the use of contact-less payments through point-of-sale devices.

Online business (e-commerce)

Online business and e-commerce platforms help maintain social distancing and reduce the potential spread of COVID-19. Online delivery applications have become the ideal medium to order food, groceries and medical supplies. E-commerce platforms, whether web-or app-based, are gaining new users.

Digital health infrastructure is helping communities safely navigate the pandemic. Telemedicine platforms based on chatbots enable people to ask questions about symptoms and treatment. These platforms also allow the public to assess the probability of infection. Other innovations, such as medical tips generated via sms or WhatsApp, advise recipients on responsible behaviors. Chatbots can also direct patients to nearby hospitals and enable healthcare professionals to track the pandemic’s spread in real-time.

Digital work and learning spaces linked by internet infrastructure and virtual platforms have increasingly become a mainstay for businesses and learning institutions as they connect remote workers and students across countries, regions and globally.

The pandemic has spurred innovative approaches that are helping society respond to and minimize its impact. Even before the global pandemic however, digital technology in general and digital financial services in particular had begun accelerating economic resilience, particularly for the most vulnerable. In 2019, the Bank partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Government of Luxembourg and Agence Française de Développement to set up the Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Facility (ADFI). ADFI is a blended finance vehicle that aims to scale up digital financial services in Africa to accelerate financial inclusion and ensure that digital financial systems include and empower everyone, especially women. 

Boost Africa is another initiative that is leveraging technology to spur inclusive growth. A partnership of the Bank, the European Commission and the European investment Bank, Boost Africa uses venture capital to support high growth SMEs that are tech-enabled and driven by disruptive technologies.

The Social Impact Investment Program (SIIPA), a joint initiative of the Bank and the European Commission, leverages technology to deliver social goods and services to underserved populations.

The COVID-19 pandemic is severe, and its economic effects are only just beginning to be felt in Africa. Still, innovative solutions and technology tools offer a glimmer of hope for human efforts to boost resilience and slow or halt the spread of the virus. We must seize upon the current urgency to rapidly develop and deploy digital services that are universal and inclusive, and which will help shield Africa’s most vulnerable from future economic shocks.

*AFDB .Stefan Nalletamby is the African Development Bank’s acting Vice-President for Private Sector,Infrastructure and Industrialisation.
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After COVID-19, what will Africa look like in 2030 and 2063?
April 14, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Banji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka*

Participant leaders take part in a family photo at the African Union headquarters during the 33rd African Union Heads of State Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on February 09, 2020.
Participant leaders take part in a family photo at the African Union headquarters during the 33rd African Union Heads of State Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on February 09, 2020.
African leaders need to look in the mirror and ask where this continent will be in 2030 and 2063

The COVID-19 pandemic, one of the world’s most significant events, has resulted in cessation of economic activities that will lead to a significant decline in GDP, an unprecedented social disruption, and the loss of millions of jobs. According to estimates by the African Development Bank, the contraction of the region’s economies will cost Sub-Saharan Africa between $35 billion and $100 billion due to an output decline and a steep fall in commodity prices, especially the crash of oil prices.

More fundamentally, the pandemic has brutally exposed the hollowness of African economies on two fronts: the fragility and weakness of Africa’s health and pharmaceutical sectors and the lack of industrial capabilities. The two are complementary.

This is because Africa is almost 100 percent dependent on imports for the supply of medicines.

According to a recent McKinsey (2019) study, China and India supply 70 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa’s demand for medicine, worth $14 billion. China’s and India’s markets are worth $120 billion and $33 billion respectively. Consider a hypothetic situation where both India and China are unable or unwilling to supply the African market? Africa surely faces a health hazard.

The root of Africa’s underdeveloped industrial and health sectors can be encapsulated in three ways. First, some African policy makers simply think that poor countries do not need to industrialize. This group believes the “no-industrial policy” advocates who engage in rhetoric that does not fit the facts. The histories of both Western societies, and contemporary lessons from East Asia, run contrary to that stance.

Clearly, governments have an important role to play in the nature and direction of industrialization. Progressive governments throughout history understand that the faster the rate of growth in manufacturing, the faster the growth of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

From the Economist magazine five years ago: “BY MAKING things and selling them to foreigners, China has transformed itself—and the world economy with it. In 1990 it produced less than 3% of global manufacturing output by value; its share now is nearly a quarter. China produces about 80% of the world’s air-conditioners, 70% of its mobile phones and 60% of its shoes. Today, China is the world’s leader in manufacturing and produces almost half of the world’s steel.” The keyword is “making”.

Two, rich countries therefore became rich by manufacturing and exporting to others, including high-quality goods and services. Poor African countries remain poor because they continue to produce raw materials for rich countries. For example, 70% of global trade in agriculture is in semi-processed and processed products. Africa is largely absent in this market while the region remains an exporter of raw materials to Asia and the West.

Lastly, African countries are repeatedly told that they cannot compete based on scale economy, and as well, price and quality competitiveness because China will outcompete them. For this reason, they should jettison the idea of local production of drugs, food and the most basic things.

The question is: How did Vietnam, with a population of 95 million, emerge from a brutal 20-year war and lift more than 45 million people out of poverty between 2002 and 2018 and develop a manufacturing base that spans textiles, agriculture, furniture, plastics, paper, tourism and telecommunications? It has emerged as a manufacturing powerhouse, becoming the world’s third-largest exporter of textiles and garments (after China and Bangladesh).

Vietnam currently exports over 10 million tonnes of rice, coming third after India and China.

How is it that Bangladesh, a country far poorer than many African countries, is able to manufacture 97% of all its drugs demand, yet it is next door to India, a powerhouse of drug manufacturing?

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed Africa. African leaders need to look in the mirror and ask where this continent will be in 2030 and 2063. Africa must adopt progressive industrial policies that create inclusive, prosperous and sustainable societies.

What then should be done? A three-pronged approached is urgently needed.

First, Africa needs a strong regional coordination mechanism to consolidate small uncompetitive firms operating in small atomistic market structures. With a consumer base of 1.3 billion and $3.3 trillion market under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the continent has no choice but to bring together its fragmented markets.

Second, Africa needs to build better institutions, strengthen weak ones and introduce the ones missing. No better wake-up call is required than the present pandemic.

Third, one important institution that has been abruptly disrupted is the supply chain for medicines and food, for example. Logistics for transporting capital and consumer goods across the region need predictable structures. Building or strengthening supply chains involve fostering and providing regulations for long-term agreements and competences that leverage both private and public institutional challenges such as customs regulations.

Finally, development finance institutions (DFIs) such as the African Development Bank are mandated to, and are currently, trying to fill the gaps left by private financial institutions. There is an opportunity to Africa to rethink and reengineer its future. The Africa of tomorrow must look inwards for its solutions. – whether in feeding its own people, build industrial powerhouses led by African champions.

The African Development Bank stands ready to help target and push for deeper economic transformation. Africa needs to execute structurally transformative projects that generate positive externalities and social returns. Keep our eyes on the days after.

*Source AFDB.Professor Banji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, is the Senior Special Adviser on Industrialization to the President of the African Development Bank. He is a fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Engineering and Professorial Fellow, United Nations University. His recent book is “Resurgent Africa: Structural Transformation and Sustainable Development”, UK: Anthem Press, 2020.
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The African Development Bank and its partners want your ideas for beating the COVID-19 pandemic
April 10, 2020 | 0 Comments
Set to host an online #AfricaVsVirus Challenge from 16 to 19 April 2020

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, April 10, 2020/ — The African Development Bank ( and partners are set to host an online #AfricaVsVirus Challenge from 16 to 19 April 2020. The 72-hour competition is a global hackathon – or “ideathon” – to develop effective solutions to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Challenge is open to entrepreneurs, companies, civil society organizations and governments with bankable solutions or ventures to address the pandemic. The top pitches will be eligible to win thousands of dollars’ worth of financial, technical and skills-learning support to advance their implementation. Details on competition qualifications and methods of participation can be found here:  

“COVID-19’s impact on the global economy is pushing millions of people, especially women and young people, into unemployment, underemployment and working poverty. Part of our response is  the #AfricaVsVirus Challenge,” said Tapera Muzira, Coordinator of the African Development Bank’s Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy ( “This online Challenge will channel youth creativity and innovation to real life solutions that mitigate the impact of the coronavirus on health, the economy, SMEs and jobs,” he added.

The #AfricaVsVirus Challenge opens on Thursday, 16 April at 6:30 pm CET and runs non-stop through to Sunday, 19 April at 6:30 pm CET. Entrants can choose to submit ideas under one of the following sectors: public health and epidemiology; vulnerable populations; businesses and economy; community; education; entertainment; government support; environment and energy; and food security. Alternatively, they may choose their own theme. 

An expert panel will select the twenty best solutions submitted, and these finalists will be invited to take part in a one-month educational program by Seedstars . The top three winning ideas will receive up to $50,000 worth of in-kind prizes. 

#AfricaVsVirus Challenge is part of the Bank’s strategy to support young African entrepreneurs – especially young women entrepreneurs – and their SMEs and startups by providing an enabling environment to innovate appropriate solutions to the COVID-19 crisis. The Bank’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab , working closely with the Youth Entrepreneurship & Innovation Multi-Donor Trust Fund is hosting the ideathon, with partners Seedstars  digital agency WAAT  and development consultants Luvent Consulting .

Rollout of the Challenge follows the African Development Bank’s launch on 8 April of a $10 billion COVID-19 response facility, and the sale of a record $3 billion debt issue last month to raise financing to help African countries confront the pandemic, which is already wreaking havoc on their economies.

Interested parties can follow the global conversation about the competition by following #AfricaVsVirus on social media, or by logging on to

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African Development Bank Group unveils $10 billion Response Facility to curb COVID-19
April 9, 2020 | 0 Comments

Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, 8 April 2020 – The African Development Bank Group on Wednesday announced the creation of the COVID-19 Response Facility to assist regional member countries in fighting the pandemic.

The Facility is the latest measure taken by the Bank to respond to the pandemic and will be the institution’s primary channel for its efforts to address the crisis. It provides up to $10 billion to governments and the private sector.

Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group, said the package took into account the fiscal challenges that many African countries are facing.

“Africa is facing enormous fiscal challenges to respond to the coronavirus pandemic effectively. The African Development Bank Group is deploying its full weight of emergency response support to assist Africa at this critical time. We must protect lives. This Facility will help African countries to fast-track their efforts to contain the rapid spread of COVID-19,” Adesina said, commending the Board of Directors for its unwavering support.

The Facility entails $5.5 billion for sovereign operations in African Development Bank countries, and $3.1 billion for sovereign and regional operations for countries under the African Development Fund, the Bank Group’s concessional arm that caters to fragile countries. An additional $1.35 billion will be devoted to private sector operations.

Commenting on the Facility, Acting Senior Vice-President Swazi Tshabalala said: “The setting up of the Facility required a collective effort and courage by all our staff, Board of Directors and our shareholders.”

Two weeks ago, the Bank launched a record-breaking $3 billion Fight COVID-19 Social Bond, the world’s largest US dollar-denominated social bond ever on the international capital market. Last week, the Board of Directors also approved a $2 million grant for the World Health Organization for its efforts on the continent. 

“These are extraordinary times, and we must take bold and decisive actions to save and protect millions of lives in Africa. We are in a race to save lives. No country will be left behind,” Adesina said.


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In Defense of a Pan Africanist – Dr Akinwumi Adesina
April 9, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Ken Giami*

Dr Akinwumi Adesina
Dr Akinwumi Adesina

PORTSMOUTH, United Kingdom, April 8, 2020,– In an Africa, dealing with monumental infrastructure and energy deficits; a teeming youthful population desperate for jobs and opportunities; and currently facing what is arguably its most daunting challenge – the COVID-19 pandemic; the continent has never been as in need of leaders, who care about the development and welfare of its people, as it does now. Leaders who transcend myopic classifications and are pan Africanists in the mould of Thomas Sankara, Julius Nyerere and Nelson Mandela. Key critical stakeholders have also never agreed as they are today, that Africa has one of such men in Dr Akinwumi Adesina.

He crisscrosses the globe preaching the gospel of a resurgent Africa and has been severally nicknamed Africa’s developer-in-chief, Africa’s promoter – in-chief, but, one stands out, Africa’s Optimist-in-Chief.

A distinguished development economist, and agricultural development expert with over 28 years international experience, Dr Adesina was at different times the Vice President of Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa; Associate Director, Rockefeller foundation; and Principal Economist, International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, IITA.

He also served as Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development from 2011-2015, during which time he pioneered innovative agricultural investments projects to expand opportunities for the private sector, receiving several awards and accolades for excellence during the course of work.

Dr Adesina was elected in 2015 as the 8th President of the African Development Bank – the first Nigerian to head the leading development institution in its long chequered history.   The Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS at its 56th ordinary session of the Authority of Heads of States, endorsed the reelection of Dr Akinwumi Adesina as the President of the African Development Bank.

In a communique issued at the end of the meeting, the authority noted that “in recognition of the sterling performance of Dr Akinwumi Adesina during his first term of office as President of the African Development Bank, the Authority endorses his candidacy for a second term as the President of the bank.”

Preceding his endorsement for a second term, Dr Adesina had won the 2017 World Food Prize – a parallel to the Nobel Peace Prize.

The World Food Prize on its website, while announcing the award, stated that “through his roles over the past two decades with the Rockefeller Foundation, at the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), and as Minister of Agriculture of Nigeria, Dr Adesina has been at the forefront of galvanizing political will to transform African agriculture through initiatives to expand agricultural production, and thwart corruption in the Nigerian fertilizer industry.”

In February 2019, Dr Adesina co-won the Sunhak Peace Prize, alongside Waris Dirie, the tireless fighter for female genital mutilation and women’s rights in Africa. Later the same year, he was overwhelmingly voted as the African of the Year 2019, in the African Leadership Magazine Persons of the Year Awards by Africans from all spectrum of society with over 68% of total votes cast in his category – the continent’s leading vote-based poll. And there has been a deluge of several other endorsements from governments, individuals and organizations from within and outside the continent.

Like the famous quote, “behind every successful person lies a pack of haters”, It was therefore unsurprising to see the uninspiring media attack cloaked in the garb of revelation by “whistleblowers-cum-group of concerned staff”.

This weak attempt at pulling down a shining star, published in the French tabloid, Le Monde, would certainly pass for a malicious piece, designed to muddy the waters. One can also safely say that they are meant to detract the African Development Bank from focusing on its core mandate, which it had tenaciously pursued under the leadership of its President, Dr Adesina.

Someone of Dr Adesina’s pedigree is not opposed to scrutiny. He has become an apostle for good governance and best practices, the twin message that has become his anthem at meetings with key African stakeholders. According to the 2018 Aid Transparency Index Report, released by Publish What you Fund, African Development Bank was ranked 4th among 45 development organizations around the world. 

A careful study of the issues as raised by the ‘whistleblowers’ in their report, which was the source of the Le Monde article – calls for a closer look at the ‘invisible ink’. In the story, he was accused among other things of a plan to “Nigerianize the AfDB by giving compatriots key positions, but also by more easily granting lines of credit to leading Nigerian companies.” 

Nothing can be further from the truth. Nigeria, though the largest shareholder in the Bank with about $6 billion portfolio, appears to be getting the short end of the projects. For instance, an approved list of projects on the website of the AfDB showed about 75 projects totalling $64, 584, 648, and none of the majors was mainly targeted at Nigeria alone.

While Senegal, Cameroun, Tanzania, Rwanda, Namibia amongst others, had specific projects aimed at the individual country levels, Nigeria was lumped more in the multi-countrywide projects categories. In any case, one should think that Nigeria, with its vast population and very well known energy and infrastructure problems, and as the largest shareholder of the Bank, should have a much more significant share of the Bank’s projects.

It may therefore not be surprising if the ‘invisible ink’ in these accusations is linked to Dr Adesina’s stubborn resolve to detangle Africa from the shackles of over-dependence on others but seek self-reliant African solutions to Africa’s problems. He has also taken upon himself the onerous task of challenging the negative stereotypes about the continent.

One would also wonder, if the timing of these accusations published in the French tabloid Le Monde, and the recent calls by two French doctors on live television for COVID-19 vaccine trial tests to be carried out in Africa, at a time that the AfDB had just successfully listed a US $3Billion Social bond on the London Stock Exchange to help Africa deal with the pandemic, are linked?

It was appalling to see two French doctors on the French television channel, LCI, propose that the potential vaccine for the Virus be tested on Africans first, before deploying it to Europe and Australia. Instantly, this set-off a backlash from people of goodwill from around the continent and beyond. This kind of thinking from some westerners is what leaders like Dr Adesina have consistently challenged, and some vested interests aren’t happy about it. Make no mistake, Africa has some worthy partners in the west, but her adversaries come in equal measure.    

On his part, Dr Adesina, in his response to the Le Monde article, has said that “the African Development Bank has a very high reputation for good governance.” He restated, the Bank’s confidence in the governance system put in place by the board of Governors of the Bank and asked that the ethics committee of the Bank be allowed to do its job without interference. We dare say without any media trials also.

Dr Adesina, since his emergence as the 8th President of the Bank in 2015 has led the Bank on what many analysts have described as an exceptional tenure. A leader in agricultural innovation for over 28 years, Dr Adesina has contributed significantly to food security in Africa, aimed at improving the lives of millions in the continent. The Bank, under Dr Adesina, has recorded many firsts and marked several milestones including: 

  • Increase in the Bank’s capital, showing the shareholders’ high level of confidence in the institution.
  • The Bank’s governors, representing shareholders from 80 countries, approved a historic capital increase of $115 billion. The institution’s capital more than doubled to $208 billion, which solidified the Bank’s leadership in financing development in Africa. The unprecedented increase, the largest since the Bank’s creation in 1964, provided clear evidence of shareholders’ trust.

The African Development Bank Group continues to play a central role in Africa’s development under the leadership of Dr Adesina. We, therefore, call on all stakeholders, including the UN, WHO, President Ramophosa-led African Union, Afreximbank and other institutions, currently at the forefront of pushing for the continent’s survival in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, to band together and do all it takes to save the continent, and indeed the world by defeating the virus in Africa, rather than give credence to a seemingly stage-managed media spat. As Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed rightly said, “If COVID-19 is not defeated in Africa it will return to haunt us all”. 

*Ken Giami is the Founder and Publisher of the African Leadership magazine, and writes from the United Kingdom.Published with permission of the author

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