“Africa will develop on its own terms, not based on the benevolence of others. And that is the only way we can make development faster and driven by our own needs – with a deep sense of urgency and responsibility.” These were the words of African Development Bank Group President Akinwumi Adesina, who delivered the keynote address on Monday, March 27, 2017 in Abidjan, as part of a week-long conference on emerging markets organized by the Government of Côte d’Ivoire.
More than 300 participants from around the world, including corporate executives, government officials, financial decision-makers and some of the most influential private and public representatives on the African continent, came to listen to President Adesina reflect on the theme “Africa, forty years from now” at the 2017 Africa Meeting of the Emerging Markets Forum.
Adesina said he would rather talk about Africa’s promise to transform itself within the next 10 years, the span of the Bank’s High 5 development priorities – Light up and power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialize Africa, Integrate Africa and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa – rather than imagining the continent in 40 years’ time. “Some 40 years from now, the world will be totally different,” he said, noting that “the future of Africa keeps getting postponed. It used to be 2020, now it’s 2063. I’m going to talk about Africa’s promise to transform itself within the next 10 years, the span of the High 5s.”
He noted that Africa cannot continue to develop in the dark. Africans are tired of being in the dark. And very little business, education, healthcare or entertainment can be done without some form of power. “Some 645 million people in Africa do not have access to electricity. Power must be at the top of everyone’s to-do list,” Adesina said.
To solve this, he said the Bank Group has committed to invest US $12 billion over the next five years in Africa’s power sector. “We expect to leverage another US $45-$50 billion in co-financing for energy projects in the region during the same period.
“The future is now. The future is already with us. Africa is there to be built today. But none of this can happen without political stability, peaceful and stable communities,” said Adesina.
The continent also needs to unlock its huge agriculture potentials and prioritize industrialization, he said, adding that there is need for governments to take big steps in the years to come. “The last 40 years showed that Africa could not feed itself. The next 40 will show that it can, and that it will. For it will have become the world’s powerhouse in food production and processing.
For it to be able to feed its own 2 billion people, as well as the other 7 billion on the planet, Adesina said, there is need for bold actions in the next 10 years.
To help make this happen, the Bank has made it a commitment to make of agriculture and agro-industrialization a factor of the continent’s transformation, by helping it get to the top of agriculture value chains. The Bank President expressed the need for preparing the continent’s youth population for the jobs of the future with emphasis on digital literacy, computer science, engineering, material sciences and biotechnology. “These would form the core of efforts to push the continent’s industrialization,” Adesina observed, noting that “The Bank’s ambition is to help double the industrial GDP of African economies to US $1.72 trillion by 2025, over 30% of overall GDP.”
In closing, Adesina observed that our choices, the political will that our governments can affirm, the leadership we will be able to show to make the right choices will determine, what is reserved for each of the countries of our continent.
“But, let’s not think of 40 years from now. Let’s think of Africa in 10 years, for it has waited for far too long.”
Participants in the meeting included Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister of Planning and Development, Nialé Kaba; Benin’s Minister of Planning and Development, Abdoulaye Bio Tchané; Former IMF Director General, Michel Camdessus; Governor of the Central Bank for West African States, Koné Tiemoko Meyliet; Emerging Markets Forum CEO, Harinder Kohli, among others.