New Start for African Development Bank

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On Sept. 1, 2015, the African Development Bank ushered in a new start when Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina replaced Donald Kaberuka as president. Adesina had been the Nigerian Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, a position that provided many experiences and has given him a high level of expertise. This expertise is needed as Africa’s currencies are trading at a near all-time low as a result of China’s stock market problems. China is Africa’s largest trading partner with their business being valued at $166.3 billion in 2012. However, Adesina has plans for Africa to become more economically independent through investments.

Adesina detailed in his “vision statement” written while bidding for his new position how he plans to create a new start for the African Development Bank. A primary focus of the Bank will be infrastructure. It is estimated that Africa’s lack of infrastructure hinders its potential productivity by 40 percent. The availability of a reliable power source is of particular interest. Adesina has said, “the Bank would focus on key development objectives and then pursue targeted integrated infrastructure investments to drive those developmental objectives.”

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Another area that will be of interest is the private sector. Of all the investment activity in Africa, the private sector accounts for 70 percent. Adesina’s goal is industrialization through investing in companies both large and small. “The Bank will design advisory support services dedicated towards supporting the industrialization of Africa.” The unemployment of youth, estimated at 20 percent, is yet another issue to be addressed by the Bank.

Drawing on his experience as Nigerian Minister of Agriculture, encouraging agricultural programs in rural areas will also be a focus of the Bank’s new president. Those who live in rural areas make up nearly 70 percent of the impoverished population in Africa. Adesina notes that improving this issue will be possible when it is targeted as a developmental objective so they can receive the infrastructure and technology they need for employment. Again, through an enhanced infrastructure regional integration can improve. The percentage of trade between regions in Africa is among the lowest of major continents. This is a large contributing factor to struggling economies. The goal is to invest in power lines, roadways, waterways, and airways allowing for efficient transportation of goods.

One last factor Adesina feels will aid in Africa creating an independent and stable economy is sovereign wealth investment. In West Africa, nations like Nigeria and Angola have been able to create sovereign wealth investment systems but nations in East Africa, like Kenya and Tanzania have not. Perhaps as they begin to make profits from commercial oil sales these East African nations will begin reinvesting in the industry. There are those who feel, due to a lack of transparency in particular governments, this saving and reinvestment of profits may open opportunities for these funds to be used for political gain rather than for social programs and infrastructure.

Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina is providing a new start for the African Development Bank through his detailed agenda. The financial situation in China significantly impacted Africa but as Adesina has explained, it is his goal “to help build a new Africa with prosperous, sustainable and inclusive growth.”

By Joel Wickwire
Edited By Leigh Haugh

Sources:
African Development Bank Group–Projects and Operations
Bloomberg–Sovereign Wealth Funds Can Ease Africa Risks, AfDB Head Says
Reuters–Interview –African Development Bank Chief to Focus on Powering Africa
Ventures–A New Dawn at African Development Bank as Adesina Takes over as President
Top Image Courtesy of African Progress Panel’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Feature and Inline Image Courtesy of Christopher Griner’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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