In an exclusive interview, Akinwumi Adesina, head of the African Development Bank and ‘optimist-in-chief’, says the outlook is good for a continent with both the workers of the future and the best investment opportunities
Africa holds the future workforce for the ageing economies of the west, according to one of the continent’s leading financial figures, who also said it was time to ditch the myths around corruption and risk.
In an exclusive interview before this weekend’s World Bank meetings in Morocco, Akinwumi Adesina said there was a resurgence of belief in Africa’s economic prospects and attacked negative stereotyping, adding that there was “every reason to be optimistic”.
Now midway through his second five-year term as president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Nigerian former agriculture minister said the continent’s demographic advantage, expanding middle class, and vast investment opportunities meant a shift was under way.
The global financial crisis that brought the world down in 2008 – that was not in Africa. We have no Wall Street
“And not before time – we’re tired of being at the bottom of the value chain,” Adesina said. “The fastest way to poverty is through exporting raw materials, but the highway to wealth is through global value chains by adding value to everything you have, from oil to gas to minerals to metals and food. We must add value.
“The issue is we have to invest right; we have to make sure the governance environment is right; we have to make sure the incentives are right. Africa must take a position that it is no longer going to be at the bottom but at the top.”
Established in 1964, the AfDB is Africa’s only AAA-rated financial institution, focused on what Adesina said were his “high fives”: enabling universal access to electricity, improving quality of life, industrialising, food self-sufficiency, and integrating the continent’s 54 countries to create larger and more efficient markets.
“I don’t think that you can have development with pride unless you can feed yourself,” he said.
Ghana’s Pokuase interchange, near Accra. Africa’s default rate on infrastructure projects is the lowest in the world, says Adesina. Photograph: Courtesy of AfDB
He said the record-breaking amounts attracted from international investors in the past few years pointed to a renewed trust in the bank’s ability to fast-track development across Africa, particularly in the 37 low-income countries.
“The 81 shareholders of the bank provided us with an increase in the bank’s capital at the end of 2019, from $93bn to $208bn [£76bn to £171bn] – the highest capital increase in the bank’s history. That was timely because little could we have imagined that we were going to move into the world of Covid.
“So that increase allowed us very quickly to do an emergency support facility of $10bn in Covid crisis response for Africa and to immediately respond when the global food crisis was coming from the Russia’s war in Ukraine. We launched a $1.5bn emergency food-production facility to mitigate that global geopolitical crisis leading to a food crisis in Africa.”
I’m an eternal optimist … Look at the numbers: Africa’s population is going to be 1.72bn by 2030. That’s larger than China, larger than India
But he does want the international financial systems to be structured fairer, so that African nations have as equal access as the developed nations to reserves and liquidity. Adesina will be taking his call for equity to this weekend’s World Bank summit.
“What is very important for us is the issue of the special drawing rights. Africa needs to have a lot more resources for financing climate, but what is actually out there it’s not enough. We have on the table right now the special drawing rights of the IMF. But when they were issued, US$650 billion were issued, Africa got US$33 billion. It’s 4.5%, it’s not good. You have small countries in Europe that got more and that is not fair and not inclusive.” With 190 member states in the IMF, Africa’s 54 countries should have been closer to receiving 25% of the special drawing rights.
“African heads of state are asking for US$100 billion to be re channelled from the countries that got it and don’t use it, or need it,” Adesina said, and he believes this could be key to real progress.
“We might think of maybe just adjusting it a little bit. And calling it supporting development revitalisation. That’s also SDRs.”
Corruption, he said, is actually less in Africa than other parts of the world. “The global financial crisis that brought the world down in 2008 – that was not in Africa,” he said. “We have no Wall Street.
“That collapse came from greed, from corruption, from fraud.
“You have people cooking the books that are in the financial industry in Europe, not in Africa. Corruption is not an African issue.
“The issue is, that’s not to say that there’s none. What you have to do is to continue to improve transparency, accountability and the use of public resources.
“I just came back from Eritrea. I hear a lot of things about Eritrea but my first time there and I was talking to UN Development Programme staff. You know what they told me? That, in Eritrea, corruption is 0%. Why do we not talk about that? That’s the kind of thing that we want to do. For us as a development bank, we take good governance very, very seriously.
“As far as I am concerned, people’s resources do not belong in other people’s pockets. Governments must be accountable to their people. There has to be transparency in how the resources are acquired and used. That’s why we have a governance programme. When you get money from us, we also support you technically. You are accounting for those resources.
“I don’t want to minimise that Africa has a significant amount of illicit capital flows; it does – anything between $80bn and $100bn a year. But guess what? Those that are doing that are the multinational companies. And so what we have got to do is bring a searchlight to that.”
However, the biggest challenge lay in the climate crisis, he said. “Africa today is losing $7bn to $15bn a year from climate change. And that’s going to rise to $50bn a year by 2030. Yet it receives only 3% of the global climate finance.”
The African climate summit in Nairobi last month was a “great success”, he said.
“For the first time, African countries got together to say we’re not going to talk about climate issues individually; we’re putting forward African issues collectively. That itself was a success.
“I made a case at the summit that Africa’s wealth should be revalued based on the value of its natural capital; if you did that, these countries that are currently rich in natural capital, but are cash poor, will become richer. Many people think the largest carbon lung in the world is the Amazon. But it is the Congo basin forest. Now, if Africa is providing this global good, why is it not accounted for in its GDP?
Climate crisis: Africa is talking but is the west listening?
“I’m an eternal optimist – they call me Africa’s optimist-in-chief – because look at the numbers: Africa’s population is going to be 1.72 billion by 2030. Seven years from now. That’s larger than China, larger than India. 477 million of those are young people, between 15 and 35. That’s a skilled workforce; that would be the labour, a workforce for the world.
“I can go into any country you have in Europe, or in Japan, and it’s a rapidly ageing workforce and they are looking for people. A skilled African population would be able to supply that. And when they do that, guess what: they put a lot of remittances back into the continent. So Africa is part of the solution of the lack of skills in the global labour market.”
He said renewable energy and agriculture were also growth opportunities. “Africa has 60% of the world’s solar power. That is an $100bn investment opportunity for Africa to become able to light up itself, but also to harness a renewable energy and reduce global emissions.
“Take food: the ability to feed the world by 2050 will not depend on the US or China, Japan or Europe, because 65% of the arable land left uncultivated in the world is in Africa. So what Africa then does with agriculture and how we all invest in agriculture will determine the future of food in the world.
A Carnegie Mellon University Africa robotics project in Kigali, which has been financed by the African Development Bank as part of Rwanda’s ambitions to become an educational stronghold in information and computer technology. Photograph: Courtesy of AfDB
“Also, take a look at other opportunities that Africa has: mobile money services, financial services – there’s tremendous growth. If you look at the number of people using mobile phones in Africa: 650 million. That is larger than the US and Europe together, and when you look at the financial services – whether mobile phone or e-health, insurance, digital payments – a revolution has happened in Africa.
“You have $701bn just from digital payments in the world – 70% of digital payments in the world happening in Africa.
“I go out and I see young people in the fintech industry that are leading today globally. So, my optimism, it’s realistic.
“Take a look at electric vehicles. Guess what: the metals for all of that are in Africa. Africa has 80% of the world supply of platinum, 50% of copper, 40% of manganese. Huge amount of lithium all about.
“We want to have investors globally investing. We have to make sure the governance environment is right, that incentives are right.
“Don’t just believe what I say, believe what the data says. Bloomberg did an analysis of the default rates on infrastructure globally over the past 14 years, around the world. Guess what they found: Africa’s default rate is the lowest in the world – 2.1%. Eastern Europe: well over 10%. Asia: well over 8%.
“We’re doing everything we can to make sure investments can land in Africa, like a plane on a smooth landing strip.”
Culled from TheGuardian
Zimbabwe election: Timi Frank tackles AU, ECOWAS for silence over fraudulent outcomes
***warns that electoral coups always snowball into military coups
The alleged rigging of Presidential election in Zimbabwe by the ruling ZANU-PF party has been condemned by former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Timi Frank
Frank in a statement in Abuja, also accused the Heads of State and Governments of the African Union and indeed the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) of eerie silence in the face of electoral injustice being meted on the opposition presidential candidate in Zimbabwe widely believed to have won the election.
Frank indicated that such electoral coups in the form of rigging often snowball into military coups and violent change of governments because of discontent and deep seated anguish of the people who have been denied the right to freely choose who to lead them by fraud and force.
He insisted that Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa was declared winner in questionable circumstances following widespread irregularities orchestrated by the ruling party in instilling fear and suppression of votes in opposition strongholds.
He noted that candidate of the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), Nelson Chamisa, was robbed of votes as attested by international observers and South African Regional body that monitored the election.
According to him, foreign poll monitors insisted that the elections had failed to meet regional and international standards just like the outcome of the February 25, 2023 presidential election in Nigeria that failed on all parameters due to overbearing influence of the ruling party and its use of financial inducements, intimidation and harassment of opposition and voters to deny Nigerians of their rightful choice.
The head of the European Union’s observer mission said the vote took place in a “climate of fear”, while Southern African regional bloc SADC’s mission raised issues including voting delays, issues with the voter roll, bans on opposition rallies and biased state media coverage.
“For example, voting was forced into an unprecedented second day because of delays in the printing of ballot papers in some key districts including the capital Harare, an opposition stronghold principally to deny Chamisa of votes,” he said.
He condemned a situation where African ruling parties are increasingly violating the electoral rights of the opposition parties and their candidates through rigging saying the trend will continue if measures are not taken to make African Heads of States to respect the sanctity of the ballot box.
He urged regional political blocs like the AU and ECOWAS to urgently call the President of Zimbabwe to order as a step towards curbing coup d’état now rearing its ugly head in many Africa countries like the recent one in Niger Republic.
“This is what African leaders are doing that is leading to military coups in the continent of Africa. An electoral coup has just taken place where the sitting President has outrightly rigged the election against the expressed will of the people.
“But neither African presidents nor AU has condemned what has happened in Zimbabwe. But if there is a military coup in Zimbabwe tomorrow, they will all begin to issue war threats in a bid to restore democratic rule,” he said.
He called on the United States of America, United Kingdom and other international bodies, to
lend their voice to condemn the electoral heist in Zimbabwe if they are genuinely interested in ending coups in Africa.
“So we are telling the international community that until they come together to make sure that African elections are transparent, free and fair, coups will not end in Africa,” he declared.
He called for urgent international sanctions against the President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa and any President that rigs election in Africa to fraudulently perpetuate themselves in office against the wish of the people.
“The United Nations must ensure that henceforth Presidents or heads of governments that were rigged into office are not invited to attend its General Assembly or any of its international gatherings,” he said.
African Libration Week: JIgawa Govt makes case for free visa, common currency among African countries
By Ahmed Rufa’i, Dutse.
The Jigawa state government has reiterated the need for establishing common African currency and free visa among the countries for healthy business environment in the continent.
The permanent secretary ministry of commerce, trade and tourism, Alhaji Muhammad Bello gave the indication while declaring open a one day workshop and press briefing to mark the Africans Liberation week campaign on borderless Africa.
Alhaji Muhammad Bello explained that “The formations of common African and foreign policies among African countries would be one of the bedrocks for African developing economy and effective security”.
He also noted that “there is also the need for emphasis on free visa to all Africans and establishment of common African currency”.
The workshop was organized by a non governmental organization under the aegis of Save Nigeria Now in collaboration with Ministries, the Jigawa State Polytechnic, Immigration and the Army.
On its part the group (Save Nigeria Now) called for the removal of border obstacles for healthy business environment in Africa.
Speaking on behalf of the organization, the JIgawa state coordinator, Comrade Maryam Ibrahim explained that, the 2023 African Liberation week campaign is on borderless Africa organized by Save Nigeria now in collaboration with Jigawa State ministry of Commerce Supported by Africans Rising.
According to her, the campaign that comprised civil society organizations, Unions and other relevant stakeholders from Government and private institution have been mobilized by Africans Rising which brings about over 500 actions and events across the continent and in the diaspora.
“As such, as we celebrate our diversity and shared heritage let us remember that our strength is in our unity by fostering a Spirit of collaboration and breaking-down the barriers that divide us, we can create a brighter future for all Africans”, Maryam said.
She call on all relevant stakeholders to lend their voices to to call for Free movement of persons in Cognisance of the laws of Host member states, with provision of effective measures to prevent unwanted situations.
While making his presentation at the workshop, the director tourism Mahmud Isah Ringim also called for the formation of common African economic and foreign policy with emphasis on free visa for all Africans and establishment of common African currency.
Also presenting his paper, the spokesperson Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps CSC Abdullahi Adamu Shehu said for a healthy borderless Africa some crucial security roles must be put into consideration.
CSC Shehu identified some of the roles as collaboration/synergy and information sharing in border security management and providing actionable solution on security threats in Africa.
On its part, the Nigeria Immigration service Jigawa state command said, Africa has come of an age in terms of human and soci-economic development despite being classified as third world, but the arrangement in technology and global village and ready to move in term of advancement generation.
Emulate former President Goodluck Jonathan, Timi Frank urges Uhuru Kenyatta
***felicitates with Kenya’s President-elect, William Ruto
A former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Timi Frank, has urged the outgoing President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta to follow the precedent laid by former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015 by officially congratulating Ruto.
This was contained in his message of felicitation to the President-elect of Kenya, Mr William Ruto.
Frank in a statement in Abuja, asked the outgoing President to urgently initiate a peace and reconciliation process among the key actors during the election in order to curb the pockets of restiveness in some parts of the country.
He lauded the people of Kenya for their peaceful disposition during the presidential election and for voting for change in the East African country.
Frank who is the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) Ambassador to East Africa and Middle East, also called on them to stand with Ruto who represents a complete break from the established system of political succession in the country which had appeared to be restricted to the offsprings of former leaders who fought for the independence of the country.
He said: “The people of Kenya have decided that the ‘Hustler-In-Chief-of-Kenya’ should be their next President through the ballot. Therefore, let the will of the people prevail.
“Kenya needs peace to move forward and President Kenyatta has a great role to play in bringing parties in the electoral conflict to the discussion table just like he did during the last election whose results were highly disputed.
“Kenya is a peaceful country therefore, the political actors must eschew any action that can plunge the nation into a needless political crisis following the emergence of Ruto as President.
“The election of Ruto marks a new political dawn for Kenya, therefore, let the votes count.
“On his part, the President-elect, must be magnanimous in victory by immediately reaching out to his opponents with assurances of his readiness to work with them in the overall interest of peace and development of the country.
“We equally call on the presidential candidate of the opposition political party, Raila Odinga, to as a matter of necessity call his supporters to order in the interest of peace for the generality of Kenyans.
“Let him approach the appropriate court to challenge the results of the poll if he feels there were irregularities during the electoral process that may have denied him victory.”
Frank also called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of Nigeria to borrow a leaf from its Kenyan counterpart that never considered the existing power blocks in the country but courageously declared Ruto as the President-elect after he scored the highest number of votes during the election.
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