The future of Africa has many opportunities but to achieve the economic growth prospects, key challenges facing the region need to be addressed quickly.
The African Development Bank’s President, Akinwumi Adesina, has called on African leaders to work together to achieve development goals including the Agenda 2063, the High Fives, and the New deal on Energy for Africa.
“I wish to thank all of you and your countries for your excellent support for the African Development Bank. The Bank will continue to partner with you – and to support greater ambitions for Africa. We must never have low ambitions for Africa,” said Dr Adesina.
He was addressing the 34th session of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee, at the Africa Union Summit in Addis Ababa on January 29, 2016.
“The African Development Bank stands fully ready to work with African Leaders to achieve these development goals. We need your leadership. We need you as advocates. We need you as drivers for change. Together we will Light up and Power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialize Africa, Integrate Africa and Improve the Quality of life for Africans. We will jointly achieve the High 5s for Africa,” he said.
He noted that future of Africa has many opportunities but to achieve the economic growth prospects, key challenges facing the region need to be addressed quickly.
“Despite the slow economic growth prospects globally, with global GDP expected to grow at 3.4%, Africa will still do much better – with expected growth of 4.4% by 2016. Africa is still the place to invest,” he said adding that “African economies are not unraveling; they are resilient – I am confident they will come out of the current challenges.”
First and foremost, Africa’s growth is pegged on how fast the region can access affordable, sustainable and reliable electricity. Light up and Power Africa, one of AfDB’s vision for Africa is set to transform the region to power economies and create prosperous society.
“Regular supply of power, which is taken for granted in developed countries, is a luxury in Africa – in the 21st century,” AfDB President said adding that Africa should utilize both conventional and the available renewable energy resources to power factories.
“The lack of energy has impeded Africa’s industrialization. Hundreds of thousands, especially women and children, die every year from the effects of smoke, simply trying to cook meals for their families. Potential is wasted on our streets as small businesses owners, all hard-working Africans, spend most of their hard-earned incomes paying for energy.”
The New Deal on Energy for Africa will accelerate universal access to electricity in Africa by 2025. “The goal is to add 160 GW of new generation capacity via the grid, deliver 130 million new grid connections and 75 million off-grid connections. The ambition is high – and it should be: we must not have low ambitions for Africa,” Dr Adesina said.
Feeding Africa is another strategy aimed at growing Africa’s economy by ensuring that Africa becomes a global powerhouse in food and agriculture.
Africa can feed the world if sustainable efforts are employed to utilize over 60% of all the arable land left in the world being in the region.
“We must therefore revive our rural economies. The Bank will accelerate support for massive agricultural transformation across Africa – while building resilience to climate change – to fully unlock the potential of agriculture, to lower food prices, save scarce foreign exchange, increase foreign exchange earnings, strengthen macroeconomic and fiscal stability, revive rural areas – and in particular, create jobs for hundreds of millions of Africans,” he added.
Industrialization is of key importance when it comes to Africa’s competitiveness in the manufacturing sector. Africa needs to diversify its economies and add value to everything it produces. According to Adesina, this third High 5 is important because exporting raw materials only leads to vulnerabilities – and no nation or region has succeeded by simply exporting primary commodities.
The fourth High 5 is to ‘Integrate Africa’. “Regional integration is critical for expanding the size of our markets. We must integrate Africa – grow together, and develop together. Our collective destiny is tied to breaking down the barriers separating us. The Continental Free Trade Area will strengthen trade in goods, services and enhance integration of financial and labor markets.” AfDB is ready and willing to continue investing heavily in high quality regional infrastructure – especially rail, transnational highways, power interconnections, information and communications, air and maritime transport.”
AfDB is also concerned about ‘Improving the quality of life for Africans’. “Africans must see the benefit of growth and democracy in their daily lives. The Bank will accelerate investments in education, vocational training and skills development. We will grow the next generation of knowledge-work force for the continent. We will also continue to invest in improving access to basic services such as water and sanitation.”
Moreover, the bank wants to address the challenge of rapid urbanization which leaves slum areas in its wake. Its determined to ensure a slum free Africa.
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