The President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Mr Akinwumi Adesina, speaking at a high-level dialogue in Washington D.C. said the United States has a strong role to play in expanding opportunities in Africa.
According to Mr Adesina, “It is time to turn around the declining investments of the U.S. in Africa. As the world’s private sector leader, the United States has a unique role to play in increasing investments in Africa and expanding opportunities for the U.S. private sector,”.
The event which was convened by Orrick, an international law firm with more than 25 offices across the globe, had in attendance U.S. Congresswoman Karen Bass, Chairwoman of the House Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations; Thomas R. Hardy, Acting Director of US Trade and Development Agency; the Center for Global Development; representatives of the Presidential Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (PAC-DBIA); the American Jewish International Relations Institute; pension funds, private equity firms and African ambassadors.
The AfBD President further acknowledge the support of the U.S for Africa so far, however, he said, “ Now is the time to scale up and take advantage of opportunities that other global players are already investing in,”.
Mr Adesina sharing his vision on the importance of the Bank in developing the continent urged American businesses and entrepreneurs to engage more with Africa, he stated that “I strongly encourage you to look at Africa from an investment lens and not a development lens. Africa is a continent of huge untapped opportunities in power, infrastructure, IT and agriculture, which many other global players are already beginning to realize,”.
Speaking on the various projects and initiatives of the AfDB, Mr Adesina said: “this first-ever gathering of world-class investors exceeded all expectations with projects worth over US$38.7 billion securing investment interest in just 72 hours,”.
He further pointed out that the Africa Investment Forum was convened by the AfDB in Johannesburg, South Africa in November 2018, in partnership with several African development finance institutions, as a means to bridge the continent’s growing infrastructure investment gap.
The President also encouraged attendees and other stakeholders to support one of the bank’s initiatives called, the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA), as a means of changing the balance of financing because “women run Africa.”
According to him, AFAWA is a USD$300 million risk sharing facility designed to unlock USD$3 billion in credit for women-owned businesses and enterprises in Africa.
He further stated that the AfDB intends to introduce a ranking mechanism to evaluate financial institutions based on the share and quality of their lending to women and subsequent socio-economic impact.
Also speaking at the event, Congresswoman Bass, enumerated the role of the African Development Bank in financing the continent’s development needs, saying “Africa is fast becoming the continent of the future,”.
According to her, the U.S is committed to ensuring support for the work done by the African Development Bank.
She stated that “This discussion comes at a critical juncture for the future of Africa. It is widely accepted that Africa is an investment hub. I personally and many of my colleagues will continue to advocate for full funding or increased funding to the Bank,”
Congresswoman Karen Bass in concluding her statements acknowledged that Africa needs investment in large infrastructure projects, such as roads, railroads, ports, and transnational highways, “to achieve both structural transformation and market integration.”
She further added that the U.S. Congress was continually considering the best ways to increase investments especially, on the continent, stating that her office is exploring legislation to help facilitate investment in infrastructure projects.
She added that the AfDB’s High 5s project– Light up and Power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialise Africa, Integrate Africa and Improve the Quality of Life for the People of Africa align with policy priorities that the United States Congress has been focusing on.
On her final note she said, “So, I leave you with the understanding that members of the U.S. Congress are your allies on this front,”.