Let’s change the narrative on Africa in the USA says Adesina

African Development Bank (AfDB) President Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina has asked for a concerted effort to change the narrative on Africa in the United States in an effort to attract increased investments into the continent. Image credit: African Development Bank.

Let’s change the narrative on Africa in the USA, says Adesina

According to African Development Bank (AfDB) President Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina a concerted effort to change the narrative on Africa in the United States is necessary to attract increased investments into the continent.

Dr Adesina said the need for advocacy in the United States made having an African Development Bank office in Washington a matter of importance, and that he would be pursuing approval with the Board of the African Development Bank Group.

The Bank chief spoke during a meeting with African ambassadors at the chancery of the Embassy of the Republic of Congo in Washington last week.

“It is very important that Africa’s voice be heard,” he said.

Speaking to the Bank’s core objectives, Dr Adesina drew the ambassadors’ attention to the UNDP’s assessment, which showed that if Africa achieved the Bank’s High 5 priorities, it would have achieved 90% of both the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Promising results at scale

According to Dr Adesina, the AfDB has, over the past five years and through its High 5s, positively impacted the lives of 335 million people. “Close to 21 million people have gained access to electricity; 76 million to agricultural technologies to ensure food security, and 12 million people have gained access to finance through investee companies that the Bank itself has invested in,” said Dr Adesina.

“This is the kind of scale on which we work,” Dr Adesina said, explaining that the desired level of development will not come about by small projects but by projects at scale.

Spearheading climate change action

According to Dr Adesina the AfDB is spearheading efforts to help Africa tackle climate change; and that it had doubled its allocation for climate finance to USD25-billion by 2025, with 40% of its total financing going to climate finance.

“We are increasingly applying more of our resources to climate adaptation,” Dr Adesina said. “Today, 67% of all our climate finance is in adaptation, which is the highest of any international financial institution in the world.”

Dr Adesina also spoke about the Bank’s collaboration with the Global Center on Adaptation to mobilise USD25-billion for African climate adaptation and said the institution was harnessing the extensive sources of solar, hydro, wind, and geothermal power.

He highlighted the Desert to Power project, a USD20-billion investment by the Bank and its partners to create the world’s largest solar zone in the Sahel. It will help to develop 10,000 megawatts of electricity and provide electric power to 250 million people.

Infrastructure, investment opportunities

The ambassadors were presented with several examples of Bank-financed infrastructure projects that were impacting development across the continent. The AfDB has invested more than USD40-billion in infrastructure, working closely with the African Union’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development.

“This is the time to change the investment narrative on Africa in the United States,” he stressed. “The African Development Bank is developing strategic alliances and partnerships, taking advantage of the new outlook of new US administration.

“We are working closely now that the US Development Finance Corporation, The Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Corporate Council on Africa, the United States Trade Development Agency, USAID, and of course, the Department of Energy, PROSPER Africa, and the US Exim Bank to launch a new approach of working together to massively direct US capital investments to infrastructure in Africa.”

The AfDB president applauded the US government’s Build Back Better World launched by President Biden. He described it as a unique opportunity for Africa. “It is time to expand US investments in Africa at scale,” he stressed.

Dr Adesina called on the ambassadors to support the 16th replenishment of the African Development Fund, the Bank’s concessional lending window, which it uses to support low-income and fragile states. He said it was desirable that the African Development Fund be allowed by donors to go to the capital market, just like the World Bank Group’s International Development Association (IDA) had done.

“We have equity in the African Development Fund of USD26-billion. But we can go to the capital market and raise an additional USD33- billion that we can use to scale up support for African economies, especially low-income countries,” Dr Adesina told the ambassadors. “Your advocacy with donor countries, especially the United States Treasury, and the mobilisation of strong support for this is crucial.”

The recent issuance of USD650-billion special drawing rights (SDRs) by the IMF offered another unique opportunity to support countries going forward, Dr Adesina said.

Africa, the least resourced region to tackle the continual effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, only stands to receive USD31-billion out of USD650-billion in SDRs. Dr Adesina advocated a reallocation of SDRs by developed countries to developing countries, and to Africa in particular. He commended French President Emmanuel Macron for his leadership by example in recently announcing France’s donation of 2% of its own allocation of SDRs to Africa.

Let’s change the narrative on Africa in the USA, says Adesina

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