Africa Must Think Big, Act Big and Deliver Big, Says the Continent’s Leading Banker

January 13, 2024
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Must Think Big, Act Big and Deliver Big, Says the Continent’s Leading Banker

By Shola Adenekan

June 6, 2016.

Africa’s number one
banker, has said the continent must have high ambitions in order to achieve its
development objectives.

Addressing its yearly meeting in Lusaka, Zambia, the
President of African Development Bank Group (AfDB) Akinwumi Adesina said that the Bank has raised
its level of aspiration for Africa through its High 5 development priorities

In a gathering that included past and present heads-of-state as well as influential economists, businesses, politicians and various
stakeholders, Adesina said that his organisation’s priorities are Light up and
Power Africa; Feed Africa; Industrialize Africa; Integrate Africa; and Improve
the quality of life for the people of Africa.

to Adesina, the AfDB decided to focus on lighting up and powering Africa
because the continent is the only region of the world where lack of electricity
has become the norm. Over 645 million people lack access to electricity while
700 million do not have access to clean energy for cooking.

greatest hindrance to Africa’s growth and development is lack of electricity,”
he said. “Africa is simply tired
of being in the dark. Our goal is clear: universal access to energy for Africa
within ten years. Expand grid power by 160 Giga-watts. Connect 130 million
persons to grid power. Connect 75 million persons to off grid systems. And
provide access to 150 million households to clean cooking energy.”

also shared ongoing corporate reforms in the Bank, encapsulated in a new
business development and delivery model, which involves restructuring and
operations decentralization within the continent’s five geopolitical zones in
central, east, north, west and southern Africa.

It has
also established new Vice-President Complexes on Power, Energy and Green Growth;
Agriculture, Human and Social Development; and Private Sector, Infrastructure
and Industrialization to deliver the High 5 priorities in the various sectors.

landmark institutional reforms will make us faster, more efficient and
effective in delivering greater developmental impacts all across Africa. We
will drive a new performance contract system and culture of accountability for
results all across the Bank,” he said.

also reflected on African economies, noting that they have remained resilient
and are not unravelling as interpreted in some quarters. Africa must henceforth
look inwards to tap resources for the development of a more inclusive continent.

must develop with pride, he said, citing the case of Kevin Do, a youth from Sierra
Leone who received sustained applause as well as “tears of sympathy and joy”
from the audience when he was invited to the podium to share his ingenuity. At
the age of 12, Kevin developed batteries and moved on to develop a generator
for his village, using metal scraps. He was invited to MIT Innovations Lab and
lectured students at Harvard and MIT to show off his ingenuity.

thanked the Bank’s member countries for their support despite the difficult
global financial and economic headwinds and urged them to contribute generously
to the 14th replenishment of the African Development Fund, the concessional arm
of the Bank Group which comes up this year.

For his
part, President Idriss Déby of Chad, the current President of the Africa Union,
underscored the difficult challenges facing many Africa countries afflicted by
climate change-induced drought, famine, and conflict, noting that African
countries can overcome some of these challenges through coordinated concrete

commended the Bank’s High 5 priorities and expressed the hope that every Africa
country would have a positive story to share on their benefits at the next
Annual Meetings.

President Edgar Lungu of Zambia, who declared the Meetings open, commended the
energy and climate change theme of the meetings, noting that the two issues
have crystallized into a binding constraint to Africa’s growth.

He said
that lessons learned from exchanges would help the countries, including Zambia,
to find solutions to the economic and environmental challenges they face.

can lead the world on climate resilience and low carbon emissions if the
necessary policies are put in place now,” he said.

More than
4,000 participants attended this year’s Annual Meetings. They include eminent
persons such as Presidents Idriss Deby of Chad and Paul Kagame of Rwanda.
Nigeria is represented by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo. Former Presidents John
Kufuor of Ghana, Festus Mogae of Botswana, Horst Kohler of Germany, and Mary
Robinson of Ireland, are also attending along with some Prime Ministers, and
ministers representing their heads of state. Also in attendance are three
former Bank Presidents – Babacar Ndiaye of Senegal, Omar Kabbaj of Morocco and
Kwame Donkor Fordwor of Ghana.

Africa Must Think Big, Act Big and Deliver Big, Says the Continent’s Leading Banker

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