• The African Development Bank President, Akinwumi Adesina, has underscored the importance of the Bank’s new development priorities to move Africa to the next development stage.

    He noted that development partners are also important in growing the region’s economy.

    African Development Bank (AfDB) President was speaking during the annual luncheon with ambassadors and the diplomatic corps in Côte d’Ivoire, on Thursday, February 11 in Abidjan.

    In his presentation during the luncheon, President Adesina presented the Bank’s new agenda including the High 5s which aims to light up and power Africa; to feed Africa; to industrialize Africa; to integrate Africa, and to improve the living conditions of Africans.

    He called on development partners to work together to support Africa, especially fragile and conflict-affected states as well as to fight climate change.

    According to Adesina the continent cannot achieve its development goals without its partners. “You are already our greatest champions and advocates,” he said to the meeting.

    The Bank has embarked on a plan to ensure the delivery of their Ten Year Strategy through the sharper focus on the High 5s. The AfDB’s strategy for 2013–2022, is designed to place the Bank at the center of Africa’s transformation and to improve the quality of Africa’s growth. It aims to broaden and deepen that process of transformation, mainly by ensuring that growth is shared and not isolated, for all African citizens and countries, not just for some.

    Adesina added that energy is key to facilitate rapid growth. “Energy is crucial, as the region cannot continue to live in darkness and we lose many lives every day due to lack of electricity,” he said.

    The President pointed out that no fewer than 645 million Africans have no access to electricity. The result: businesses and SMEs cannot function adequately, resulting in widespread unemployment.

    Over the past year, the Bank recorded progress in the loans and grants dispersed in 2015 compared to those disseminated in 2014. “We reached 90% of our African Development Fund (ADF) financing target for the year,” he said. In 2015, “overall loans and grants in the year for the entire Bank amounted to the US $9 billion, up from the US $7.1 billion in 2014, which is about a 26% increase. Over 50% of the institution’s 2015 approvals went to infrastructure, of which 30% went to transport and 15% to energy projects.”

    He affirmed that the continent is indeed resilient and dynamic, and stressed that it has seen economic growth thanks to improved political stability, and solid macroeconomic and fiscal policies. The continent has built its resilience and dynamism on factors such as increased public sector investment in infrastructure and improved private consumption, he added.

    In spite of the economic headwinds with declines in commodity prices and weakening demand, President Adesina said that the economic prospects are still good for the continent, with growth projected to accelerate to 4.4% in 2016 and strengthening further to 5% in 2017.

    On his part, Joseph Spiteri, Dean of the diplomatic corps in Côte d’Ivoire, commended the African Development Bank for its work and its efforts to pull millions of Africans out of poverty. He also called on the international community to support the Bank in this regard.

    Held every year for the past decade, the ambassadors’ luncheon aims to share perspectives and aspirations on African economies and brings together the diplomatic community and representatives of international organizations accredited to the Bank’s host country. Other issues discussed during the luncheon were the impact of commodity prices on oil-rich countries and non-oil countries, diversification of markets, and resource mobilization.

    “Today is very special for me, as it is my first such occasion, since I took the baton of leadership, as President of the African Development Bank on September 1, 2015,” President Adesina said.

    Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister of Planning and Development, Nialé Kaba, and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Albert Mabri Toikeusse, were also in attendance, as were private and public sector representatives, AfDB Senior Management and Executive Directors, and key Bank staff.