The President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina on Wednesday disclosed that the bank will support the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) with $208 billion, as part of its contribution towards stimulating investment in Africa.
Adesina revealed this in his keynote address at the opening ceremony of the virtual 2021 AfDB Annual Meetings, where he said making the AfCFTA work is now more crucial than ever before.
The theme of this year’s annual meeting is “Building Resilient Economies in Post COVID-19 Africa.”
He also pledged that the AfDB would invest in regional infrastructure that would promote regional integration, including the integration of the continent’s financial and capital markets.
He said: “We remain highly committed to the success of the AfCFTA. As we look to the African Investment Forum 2021, the AfDB and its partners have prepared a pipeline of 230 projects valued at $208 billion to boost opportunities for the AfCFTA. I am very optimistic about Africa. Africa will recover; Africa will build back better.”
The AfDB’S president said a survey of the private equity firms by the African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association in 2020 showed that 60 per cent of limited partner investors expect to increase their allocation to Africa in the next three years.
He projected that African economies could record an estimated 3.4 per cent growth in GDP, saying the continent has started to move forward following vaccine roll out and the lifting of lockdowns imposed in the wake of the pandemic.
“The AfDB will support Africa to produce vaccines as part of the vaccines plan of the African Union. The bank will commit $3 billion to developing the pharmaceutical industry in Africa. We will work in partnership with others. Together, I am confident that we will get vaccines to all in Africa.
“The bank is taking actions to tackle Africa’s debt. We have launched a debt action plan and new strategy for economic governance in Africa. We will support poor countries to tackle debts and launch bolder economic reforms to forestall a debt crisis,” he added.
He commended the positive efforts being made by the International Monetary Bank (IMF) to address the continent’s debt situation, including the suspension of debt servicing initiative and recent decision by the IMF to issue $650 billion Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), which would advance $100 billion to Africa
He, however, noted that Africa needed new approaches to use the SDRs because these are extra-ordinary time.
“The SDRs should be used to direct financing to Africa through the AfDB to on lend to African public development bank, to support green resilience economy and inclusive recovery and the stabilisation of the economies.
“Let me be very clear, Africa is not looking for a free pass. Debt resolution must be reinforced by stronger economic governance in public financial management, better and transparent management of Africa’s natural resources and mobilisation of domestic resources.
“We will not allow COVID-19 to deter us. We must sustain the gains of our past and do even more to help Africa get back on a faster recovery path,” Adesina said.
He also disclosed that the AfDB in collaboration with African countries, was exploring the possibility of establishing an African youth entrepreneurship investment bank that would finance and grow the businesses of youths and unleash youth based wealth in Africa.
“The bank is taking actions to unleash the potentials of youths in Africa and has equipped over 23,000 youths in 45 countries with digital skills and enabling them to set up their own businesses,” he said.
Adesina also said the bank was taking actions to expand economic opportunities for all women through its affirmative finance for women in Africa and have secured, “$250 million portfolio guarantee in African guarantee fund in 2021. This guarantee will help to unlock up to $2 billion in financing for women empowered businesses.”
He said the implementation of the bank’s HIGH 5 has improved the lives of 335 million Africans and facilitated access to electricity for about 20 million people in the continent.
It also increased from 49 per cent to 56 per cent the access to power since the launching of the bank’s new deal on energy for Africa.
The bank has also supported the generation of 3,000 megawatts of power and launched the desert to power programme by facilitating, “a $20 billion programme to develop 10,000 megawatts of solar power in the Sahel and provide electricity for 250 million people. This will be the largest solar zone in the world.