News Archive May 2016

tralac’s Daily News Selection

The selection: Monday, 30 May 2016

Tanzania and the TFTA: National Trade Facilitation Committee workshop on planning the effective implementation of the TFA within the EAC (6-8 June, UNCTAD)

Germany to support CFTA preparations, negotiations (AU)

A new element of the cooperation between the AU and Germany is on the Continental Free Trade Area. Germany made an initial pledge of EUR 5 million in support of the ongoing CFTA preparations and negotiations. In addition, the AU Commission and Germany agreed to continue to cooperate in the areas of Peace and Security, Good Governance, the Pan African University, and Geothermal Energy, pledging a total amount of EUR 21 Million. Beyond the financial pledges, the AU will be a key partner in three other key initiatives receiving German support: the Land Policy Initiative, the African Risk Capacity, African-German Youth Initiative.

Degol Hailu, Chinpihoi Kipgen: 'What does it take to meet Africa’s trade integration target?' (UNDP)

However, meeting the Agenda 2063 target requires policy space for countries to implement industrial policies and build their manufacturing capacity, while liberalising tariffs gradually. These measures will ensure intra-regional trade will not be controlled by few countries with relatively advanced manufacturing capacity.

After a week of talks, Africa awaits action from AfDB (New Times)

Launch of the Partnership on Illicit Finance National Action Plans (AfDB)

Rwanda to scrap visas for Africans by 2018 (The East African)

“The plan is to have no visa requirements for African nationals by 2018, and to be among the few countries on the continent that will have abolished visas for African travellers by that time,” said Yves Butera, the spokesperson for the Rwanda Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration. “We want to make our visa regime more accommodative for Africans; but it will depend on the outcome of studies being conducted to see how feasible it is to implement this important protocol.” [Kigali Global Shapers push for a visa-free Africa]

Tanzania: Govt plans to launch e-immigration services (IPPMedia)

The government is expected to finalise plans in 2016/17 for the launch of state-of-the-art e-immigration services in the country that will allow Tanzanians and non-citizens to access certain services electronically without having to personally appear before immigration offices. The centralised e-immigration initiative is part of wider measures aimed at modernising the country's border management and control, according to immigration officials, according to the home affairs ministry. Experts say the implementation of an exit-entry management information system project at Tanzania's border points was delayed over the past years due to the lack of a proper information and communication technology infrastructure in the country. However, the launch of the launch of the national ICT broadband backbone fibre optic system means that Tanzania now finally has the infrastructure in place to roll out a centralised e-immigration services system.

Open borders should lead to open skies (editorial commentary, The East African)

China is already working to conclude a continental financing plan for African airports in due course but the appeal to investors may be undermined by low volumes at most facilities. At risk would be the eight million jobs the sector supports in Africa as well in its contribution to economies, which stood at $81bn in 2014. The main reason why closed airspace and visa restrictions do not yield results is that they are so vulnerable to retaliation by other countries. While Rwanda is working to remove visa requirements for African nationals, for instance, it has said that this will be only for countries that extend the gesture to its own nationals. Implied here is that Rwanda has thrown down the gauntlet for other African countries to push the integration agenda forward, this time through deeds rather than words.

Namibia: Only African holders of diplomatic or official passports exempted from visas (New Era)

The Namibian Cabinet last week resolved to abolish all visa requirements into the country for all African holders of diplomatic or official passports, the presidency announced. This is contrary to an erroneous initial article by New Era on Friday in which an impression was created that all Africans coming to Namibia would not be subjected to visa requirements.

Nairobi dominates COMESA cross-border bank transfers (Business Daily)

Kenya accounts for three-quarters of all funds moving through the platform dubbed Regional Payment and Settlement System, according to fresh data from Comesa. The Comesa payments system handled transfers totalling $11.5m (Sh1.2bn) and €0.84m in the period between October 2015 and February 2016 – with payments originating from Kenya amounting to $9.3m (Sh930m) and €119,789.02 in the period under review. Uganda trailed Kenya to transact $2.1m (Sh210m) and €0.7m on the regional inter-bank window; while Mauritius moved €26,857.53 (Sh4m) in the reporting period above. Kenya plugged into the Comesa platform in 2014 and the system has so far interconnected banks in eight member countries including DR Congo, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Swaziland, Uganda, and Zambia.

Tanzania: World Bank warns govt on costly tax breaks (IPPMedia)

The World Bank's country director for Tanzania, Burundi, Malawi and Somalia, Bella Bird, has advised President John Magufuli's government to stop being "too generous" with tax exemptions and backed its ongoing tax evasion crackdown measures. The World Bank country chief said there was a need for reforms to some laws regulating tax exemptions, pointing out that when given out freely such exemptions cut off genuine revenue collection streams for the government itself. She noted that while it was common practice for some governments to offer tax breaks to attract investment in certain industries, a careful approach was needed in the management of such incentives.

Uganda: Financial services top list of tax contributors (The East African)

Uganda’s financial services sector was the biggest contributor to corporation taxes in 2015, according to the Uganda Revenue Authority. The telecommunications and fuel supply sectors recorded the most losses. The financial services sector, which includes the banking, insurance, asset management, microfinance and money lending businesses, yielded overall profits of Ush213.21bn ($62m) by December 2015, generating Ush98.47bn ($28.8m) in taxes.

ICC-OHADA partner to boost arbitration practices in Africa (ICC)

The International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce has announced plans to partner with the Organisation for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA) to face the increasing number of trade disputes in Africa arising as a natural consequence of increased investment and trade on the continent.

Donor fatigue leads to fall in East African Business Council's funding (The East African)

The East African Business Council is struggling to initiate and sustain its projects because of donors pulling out and some reducing their funding. The council's 2015 report, released at EABC's annual meeting in Nairobi, revealed a 40% decrease in operating revenues, from $1,372,024 in 2014 to $820,498 in 2015. Grants decreased by 67%, from $894,526 to $295,124 over the same period, due to discontinuation of funding from the African Capacity Building Foundation and reduction of funding from TradeMark East Africa.

Zambia - South Africa Business Council launched (Lusaka Times)

Netherlands African Business Council launches a new communication centre

ECOWAS/UEMOA: technical assistance to the Implementation of the 10th EDF Transport Facilitation Project II

The general objective of the programme is to contribute to the growth of intra an extra community trade and exchanges through the installation of a transport facilitation system. The implementation period will be 28 months. The specific objectives are: the operationalisation of the Joint Border Post of Noepe (Ghana/Togo) and Seme (Nigeria/Benin); the establishment of the Road Information System to strengthen the management and planning of improved road infrastructures in regional corridors; and a more efficient transport system in the regional corridors. Especially by reducing abnormal practices and having more efficient border control systems and a more modern road transportation sector. [ECOWAS moves for continuous support from Nigeria]

Nigeria updates: President Buhari’s Democracy Day message: full text, One year after: Buhari shifts ground on key economic issues, Jibrin Ibrahim: 'These 17 years of democracy'

China Exim sets terms for financing Uganda’s SGR (The East African)

Kampala has now been forced to revise the completion date for the construction of the SGR from the Northern Corridor’s target of March 2018, to sometime around 2020, The EastAfrican has learnt. While the Ugandan government attributes the potential delay to China’s desire to take on a bigger portion of the financing responsibility in the wake of the agreement that the lender will run operations for 10 years in order to recoup its investment, sources say Beijing is concerned about Uganda’s ability to meet its repayment obligations. Minister of Works and Transport John Byabagambi confirmed in an interview in Kampala that there will be delays, setting the new expected date of completion of only the Malaba-Kampala section to 2020.

Kenya: Chinese railway builders deny locals 40% contracts (Business Daily)

“From Mombasa to Nairobi, there have been complaints that the contractor did not meet the obligation of taking up materials from local suppliers and even the 28% has been won through a big push,” Mr Macharia said. He added that the second phase of the project would make it a contractual obligation that 40% of the supplies be sourced from local businesses. The minister spoke when he met the National Assembly’s Transport Committee chaired by Starehe MP Maina Kamanda to update them on SGR’s progress.

Rasna Warah: 'Perhaps we need to rethink these mega projects and their benefits' (Daily Nation)

The question we must ask now is whether the Chinese hoodwinked us into undertaking the SGR project knowing full well that it was not viable. A couple of years ago, public policy consultant Kiriro wa Ngugi and economist David Ndii warned Kenyans that the SGR was a scam that would likely negatively impact coming generations for decades. At an Ufungamano multi-sectoral forum, Ngugi demonstrated why the reasons used to justify the SGR do not make sense. One of the justifications — that a high-speed railway will move more cargo in a shorter period of time — does not take into consideration the fact that high-speed railways are better suited for passenger services, not cargo. President Uhuru Kenyatta’s economic advisers have clearly not spelt out these challenges to him, nor have they given him a true assessment of the real cost of the mega infrastructure projects that his government has undertaken, and which show no signs of paying serious financial dividends in the near future.

Istanbul POA: declaration (UN)

A number of initiatives were announced, including the appointment of a “governing council” for the Technology Bank for LDCs, which will support access to and the better utilization of science, technology and innovation. The meeting adopted a Political Declaration, in which participants highlighted how LDCs have experienced some recent progress in areas including reduced child and maternal mortality rates, gender parity in education and parliaments, as well as access to the internet and mobile networks. There are 48 LDCs in the world, which comprise more than 880 million people (about 12 per cent of world population), but account for less than 2% of world GDP and about 1% of global trade in goods.

Extract: We will work towards reducing the average transaction cost of migrant remittances by 2030 to less than 3% of the amount transferred. We are particularly concerned with the cost of remittances in certain low-volume and high cost corridors. We will work to ensure that no remittance corridor requires charges higher than 5% by 2030, mindful of the need to maintain adequate service coverage, especially for those most in need. [Download the declaration, pdf]

Women’s economic empowerment takes centre stage at UNCTAD expert meeting

A policy framework for two types of e-trade (World Bank Blogs)

Amid all the excitement and energy – within the G20, B20, WTO, World Bank Group, and elsewhere - how can policymakers and international organizations respond? What trade-related policies and regulations are most relevant for the digital economy – and where are the financing and capacity gaps most relevant?

India’s five-cornered trade strategy (Gateway House)

Strike one for trade agreements in Northeast Asia (editorial comment, East Asia Forum)


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Launch of the Partnership on Illicit Finance National Action Plans

Members of the Partnership on Illicit Finance (PIF) met alongside the African Development Bank at the Bank’s Annual Meetings in Lusaka, Zambia, to publish national action plans to combat illicit finance, review member countries’ priorities for addressing illicit finance stemming from corruption and other criminal activities, and share experiences with countries interested in joining the Partnership.

African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina voiced the institution’s strong support for the Partnership and encouraged other African countries to join current members Burkina Faso, Kenya, Liberia, Mauritius, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and the United States in developing national action plans to combat illicit finance. 

Corruption and illicit finance in Africa continue to undermine democracy, constrain investment, reduce stability, thwart economic development, and disenfranchise African populations who should benefit from Africa’s tremendous growth potential.

Launched at the 2014 U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit and reaffirmed at the July 2015 Third International Financing for Development Conference, the Partnership brings together countries committed to tackling corruption and to developing strategies to eliminate opportunities for illicit finance. 

Under the Partnership, countries are developing and implementing tailored national action plans to combat illicit finance. These plans will guide country-specific action to fight illicit finance stemming from corruption and other crimes, and will reinforce efforts to build developing countries’ capacity to mobilize domestic resources and attract private sector investment. Countries’ national action plans are being posted on the African Development Bank website.

United States urges more African countries to join ‘Partnership against Illicit Finance’

More African countries should sign-up to the ‘Partnership on Illicit Finance’ (PIF), Marisa Lago, Assistant Secretary for International Markets and Development in the US Treasury, said while speaking as a panelist in a session at the AfDB Annual Meetings in Lusaka.

Since its establishment almost two years ago, just eight African countries have joined as members; these include Burkina Faso, Kenya, Liberia, Mauritius, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone and the United States.

At a side event on the fourth day of the AfDB meetings, representatives of the eight member countries sat on a panel whose purpose was to launch their respective national plans on what they intend to do to combat illicit financial flows.

However, there was no launch as it emerged that only two of the eight members, Senegal and the United States, had completed drafting their national plans.

Rotich Henry Kiplagat, Kenya’s Minister of Finance, when asked by the session moderator about the progress of his country’s national plan against illicit financial flows, said it would be ready, ‘very soon.’

A representative from Liberia informed the panel that her country had finalized preparing the framework for the national plan; however, she noted that her government needed help to address serious ‘capacity challenges especially in the national revenue body.’

Without any plans to launch, the session was spent by panelists discussing their respective efforts in combatting corruption and general illicit trade in their countries.

Concluding remarks were provided by Lago, who underscored the need for African countries to unite and coordinate their efforts in the fight against illicit financial flows.

“This is a partnership of the willing. While we encourage more countries to join the partnership, it is important for current members to finalize their national plans so that we embark on implementation,” she said.

AfDB pledges firm support

The President of the AfDB, Akinwumi Adesina, who delivered the opening remarks, pledged the Bank’s support to African efforts in combating illicit financial flows out of the continent and called for more accountability and transparency in the management of public resources.

“We are talking about development, but development needs resources. Whether its health, education or infrastructure, it doesn’t matter what you are talking about; it all requires money,” said President Adesina.

President Adesina noted that although the money to finance development is available, it is literally stolen and ends up in individual pockets.

He commended the support from the US Treasury noting that international cooperation is important in helping African countries to counter the deep pockets of multi-nationals that get away with committing tax injustice because they have the best legal brains in the world as their tax-lawyers.

Adesina wants to see more support going to people engaged in exposing illicit trade operations and finances such as whistle blowers, civil society, parliaments, tax administration and the press.

“Africa may have a lot of poor people, but we are by no chance a poor continent. In terms of the value of the discovered natural resources that Africa has, it is about US $82 trillion,” he said, adding that with proper management and exclusive usage of the resources, poverty can be defeated.

He said the African Development Bank is currently developing its own strategy in how it can provide technical support and capacity building to support in the fight against illicit flows and said he is looking forward to working with the US Treasury in these efforts.

Through its African Natural Resources Centre, the AfDB, Adesina said, is already providing technical support and expertise to African countries on how to sustainably manage their natural resources in inclusive ways that benefit the countries’ citizens.

“We also have the Africa Legal Support Facility, which has smart lawyers that help countries review agreements and advise on how to negotiate,” he said.

The session heard that tax fraud and evasion account for the vast majority of illicit financial flows from Africa and that these flows deprive governments of essential revenues needed for development.

A joint study conducted by the Bank Group and the Global Financial Integrity (GFI) found that between 2000 and 2009, some US $30.4 billion per annum flowed out of Africa, mostly in the form of IFFs.

According to GFI, Africa loses more to illicit flows than what it gets in donor aid. The statistics indicate that for every US $1, poor nations receive in development aid, an estimated US $10 flows illicitly abroad.

During the U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit in July 2014, African leaders and President Obama agreed to establish the Partnership on Illicit Finance to combat illicit finance and the damage it causes to the people of Africa. The commitment to this partnership was re-affirmed during the Financing for Development conference in July 2015. 

Earlier this year, in February, PIF members met in Dakar, Senegal, for a workshop to discuss and refine draft action plans a head of a Sub-Ministerial Meeting in Washington in the margins of the World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings.

The aim of the session at the AfDB meetings on Thursday was to review the progress made thus far in the development of those action plans and to share experiences with countries that are yet to subscribe to the partnership.


Background

Illicit finance is draining Africa’s resources, perpetuating aid-dependency and undermining the ability of Africa to craft a development agenda that reflects its realities and priorities. The human and physical investments needed for Africa's transformation require addressing illicit finance as a priority.

The objective of PIF is to:

  1. Examine and Make Recommendations Concerning Illicit Financial Activities in Africa: The Partnership members will continue to examine reliable sources to better understand the range and scope of corruption and other unlawful activities related to illicit financial activities in Africa. Based on this work, the working group created inside PIF will continue to identify recommended actions to help prevent and respond to these types of illegal activities. These recommendations will be largely focused on further strengthening and prioritizing the implementation of existing international standards or commitments established by the African Union, United Nations, G-7, G-20, Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and other relevant groups.

  2. Develop Individual Action Plans: Participating countries have committed to publishing national action plans that articulate a number of country-specific pledges that, when taken, will help prevent the generation and movement of proceeds from corruption and other crimes. Each government has committed to consult with the private sector and civil society to forge these country-specific, action-oriented commitments.

  3. Implementation and Monitoring: Participating countries have also expressed interest in regularly assessing their progress towards implementation or fulfillment of these pledges, and updating their action plans accordingly.

As of May 2016, members of PIF include Burkina Faso, Kenya, Liberia, Mauritius, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and the United States.

What does it take to meet Africa’s trade integration target?

The target of Agenda 2063 of the African Union is to see: “intra-Africa trade growing from less than 12% in 2013 to approaching 50% by 2045”. To meet this target, intra-regional trade not only needs to grow, but the sophistication of the products traded must be enhanced.

For instance, from 1965 to 1990, intra-regional trade among the Asian Tigers plus China, Indonesia, Japan and Malaysia averaged 29% of their total trade. Intra-regional trade actually grew at a slightly higher average rate of 18% per year compared to 15% for extra-regional trade (trade with countries outside the group). Currently, extra-regional trade from this group of countries is just 1.7 times greater than intra-regional trade. Moreover, as a result of developed regional value chains and industrial networks, intra-regional imports of intermediate goods represent more than 50% of total imports.

Intra-regional trade between the Asian countries also grew in sophistication. Today, manufactured goods make up about 70% of the total trade. Intra-regional trade in high-skill and technology intensive manufactures is among the highest in the world, accounting for 50% of regional trade.

Can African economies achieve such remarkable integration? The good news is that, between 2000 and 2014, the total value of Africa’s intra-regional trade grew at an annual average rate of 13%, increasing from US$30 billion to US$178 billion.

Yet, Africa’s trade with the rest of the world continues to account for more than 85% of total trade. For instance, since the mid-1990s, imports sourced within the region have not exceeded 15% of total imports.

Few countries also dominate intra-African trade. Between 2010 and 2014, Botswana, Côte d’Ivoire, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia purchased 40% of the intra-regional exports. About 50% of the imports were sourced from Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria and South Africa.

The ratio of extra- to intra-regional imports of manufactures remains at 9:1. In addition, more than a third of Africa’s exports of high and medium technology intensive manufactures – which are low in terms of value – are exported outside the region.

The chief mechanism through which intra-African trade will be facilitated is the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), to be endorsed by the African Union member states in 2017. The CFTA aims to achieve a single common market for goods and services. According to the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the CFTA has the potential to increase intra-African trade by 52% in 2022.

With a rapidly rising middle class, Africa’s consumer spending is expected to reach US$1.4 trillion by 2020. Along with this, demand for manufactures, particularly those that are technology intensive, will rise. The CFTA can meet this demand by deepening trade integration.

However, meeting the Agenda 2063 target requires policy space for countries to implement industrial policies and build their manufacturing capacity, while liberalising tariffs gradually. These measures will ensure intra-regional trade will not be controlled by few countries with relatively advanced manufacturing capacity.

Degol Hailu is Senior Advisor and Chinpihoi Kipgen is Research Associate at UNDP.

After a week of talks, Africa awaits action from AfDB

Three men emerged as stars at the just concluded African Development Bank (AfDB) 51st Annual Meetings held in the Zambian capital Lusaka; they’re Edgar Lungu, the Zambian President, Kelvin Doe, a teenage scientist from Sierra Leon and Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, the Bank’s President. Here is why.

Edgar Lungu, whose personality comes across as too laidback for an African President, is facing a tough election just five months away.

Hosting the AfDB’s Annual Meetings provided a very important platform for Lungu to make Zambians proud before guests; the event was generally well organised and delegates were well facilitated, this credit will be attributed to the efficiency of his government.

The event also created short terms jobs for urban Zambians in Lusaka with thousands of young university students getting hired as guides and ushers while the transport sector cashed in on transporting thousands of delegates to and from their hotels to the conference hall.

These might be small elements in the larger scheme of things but Lungu’s strategists should be able to draw dividends from the successful hosting of the Meetings and rally Zambian voters to renew the President’s term in office, amidst tough economic times.

So far, things are pretty tight for as I left the city Lusaka, Saturday morning, a headline in Zambia’s Saturday Post was reporting about an alleged split in the ruling party, the Patriotic Front. Nonetheless, local analysts think that the incumbent will win.

To Kelvin Doe now, a brainy teenage boy from Sierra Leon who made adults at the Annual Meetings, appear less smart. Kelvin was facilitated to travel from his country to Lusaka, to help AfDB President Adesina, make his point about youth empowerment through innovation.

It worked.

During his speech at the official opening of the Annual Meetings on Tuesday morning, President Adesina had Kevin brought up to the stage where his story was shared before African heads of state including President Paul Kagame, and other high profile dignitaries.

At the age of 12, Kelvin developed, from scratch, his own batteries using acid, soda and metal mixed in a cup at home; his batteries are now powering his village.

He then went on to develop a generator for his village, using metal scraps; it now provides services to his community to charge their mobile phones, and powers his own radio FM station. He became an employer, providing part time jobs for youths, to become broadcasters in his own FM station. 

Delegates follow proceedings at the 51st Annual Meeting of the African Development Bank (AfDB) in Lusaka

Kelvin was invited to MIT Innovations lab and lectured students at Harvard and MIT to show off his ingenuity; in the process, he became the youngest person ever to be invited to the visiting practitioners program at MIT, following in the footsteps of his other young mentor, another young Sierra Leonean, David Sengeh, a PhD student who is spearheading cutting-edge bio-engineering innovations for prosthetics at MIT. 

President Adesina said of Kevin, “He is from a fragile state, but Kevin has an agile mind. Fragility cannot thwart creativity. Kevin shows us the power of Africa's youth to be creative. He did not run away on a rickety boat to Europe but stayed back in his home in Sierra Leone to continue his inventions. Kevin is right here in this room with us today.”

As the short and petite bodied teenage inventor walked up to the high stage for recognition, Presidents stood in his honour and shook the boy’s hand, in turn, stirring up tears of joy; Zambian Minister of Finance Alexander Chikwanda pulled out his white handkerchief and wiped the boys tears, President Adesina then hugged him, like a dad does to a son.

Kelvin became an instant hit among delegates and a target for journalists. High profile delegates could be seen flocking to the boy, to have a word with him and hand over their business cards; it was simply hard to imagine, he is only 14 years old.

But the star of the week was AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina.

The Annual Meetings are organised in a way that dozens of meetings are ongoing in different conference rooms at the same time. Delegates have to plan their schedules, deciding which meeting to attend based on their line of interest. It is harder for journalists who are expected to cover almost everything, by their bureaus.

For President Adesina, these were his first Meetings since being elected President, twelve months ago. As President, he is also the chief host meaning that he’s expected to make an appearance in at least most of the sessions.

At only 56 years old, the former Nigerian Agriculture Minister is not only fast paced but also full of exuberance; throughout the week, he managed to dash from one meeting and rush right into another making intelligent contributions to each session, regardless of the topic at hand.

He also stood out for his fashion sense. Akinwumi maintains an elegant look in impeccably dressed suits with his trademark bowties and a prominent moustache that makes him look more of a film-star than the agricultural scientist and economist that he is.

With his unconventional fashion sense and great speeches flavored with powerful memorable quotes, President Adesina without a doubt stamped his mark in the minds of every delegate.

He might have made several speeches during the course of the week but it is the one that he gave at the opening of the Annual Meetings, on Tuesday morning that unveiled his brand and mindset, two things that are going to shape his legacy at the African Development Bank.

He confessed to being impatient, ambitious and pragmatic in his pursuit for results and offered no apologies for those traits but instead endorsed them as the kind of attitude needed if the Bank is going to actively play its role being at the vanguard of Africa’s transformation.

“Some have said we are too passionate or ambitious. Well, there is no other option for Africa. Africa has already waited too long,” he told his high profile audience composed of Presidents, Vice Presidents, Prime Ministers and other dignitaries from all over the world.

Off record, a number of sources in the know, have quoted his fast-paced style of leadership as being ‘American’ and that those used to doing things the ‘African’ way might have a lot of catch-up to do.

If that is true, then it must be because of his years as a student in USA. Dr. Adesina holds a Master’s and Ph.D. in agricultural economics from Purdue University where he won the outstanding thesis award. He graduated with First Class Honors Bachelors’ degree in agricultural economics from the University of Ife, Nigeria in 1981.

Prior to his departure as President of the Bank, Dr. Donald Kaberuka had led the design and launch of the AfDB ten-year strategy for Africa which Dr. Adesina will now be counted on to take forward and yield results for Africa.

Five-highs

Within six months, Adesina embarked on drawing an implementation plan to accelerate the Bank's ten-year strategy. The result of that is now what is popularly referred to as the ‘High 5S’ at the Bank. The High 5s include ‘Light Up and Power Africa; Feed Africa; Industrialise Africa; Integrate Africa; and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.’ 

Two of the High 5s, ‘Light Up and Power Africa’ and 'Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa were launched during the Annual Meetings under ‘the new deal on energy’ and ‘jobs for youth initiative’ respectively.

New deal on energy

Under the new deal, AfDB will set out to light up and power the 645 million people that lack access to electricity as well as the over 700 million that do not have access to clean energy for cooking.

“We will do more to deliver on the New Deal on Energy for Africa. The Bank will invest US$12 billion in the energy sector over the next five years and we expect to leverage US$45-50 billion into the energy sector,” said Adesina.

But the Bank recognises the fact that it can’t do much on its own and in order to meet the ten-year targets, the ‘co-development’ approach will be adopted to allow for strategic partnerships.

Candidates for such partnerships include African Union, the Africa Progress Panel, NEPAD, President Obama's Power Africa, the World Bank, Sustainable Energy for All, African Energy Leaders Group, the European Union, the UK Government's Initiative, China, France, Germany, Scandinavian countries, Japan, Korea, India, private sector and others.

“Africa is simply tired of being in the dark. Our goal is clear: universal access to energy for Africa within ten years. Expand grid power by 160 Gigawatts. Connect 130 million persons to grid power. Connect 75 million persons to off grid systems. And provide access to 150 million households to clean cooking energy,” Adesina declared.

While talking about energy, emphasis will be on investing in clean energy to combat climate change. This informed the theme under which the meetings were held; energy and climate change.

The Bank has announced a large wallet to finance climate change related interventions. Adesina announced that the Bank will lead the way on green growth and will triple its climate finance to $5 billion per year by 2020.

25 million jobs for the youth

Through the Bank's Jobs for Africa's Youth Initiative, Adesina said the Bank will support digital literacy, logical thinking and computational skills in secondary and primary schools and support coding academies that will drive advanced computational skills for employment focusing on youths in universities and polytechnics.

Again through the co-development model, AfDB will work in partnership the European Investment Bank and private equity funds to help boost businesses of young people by leveraging US$5 billion to support businesses of young African entrepreneurs.

The Bank’s goal is to create 25 million jobs for the youth, over a ten year period, in agriculture, ICT and other sectors.

“The future of African's youth does not lie at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea. It lies in a more prosperous and inclusive Africa – one that promotes creativity and innovation, that expands economic opportunities for the youth. It lies in an Africa that creates jobs for its own people,” said President Adesina.

It is also at that point that he introduced the live anecdote of the young Kevin Do, who was seated somewhere at the back, part of the audience. Before his mention, people were perhaps wondering what a kid was doing at an assembly of elites.

After his mention and introduction, everyone wanted a word with him. In Kevin, Adesina sees a new generation of young Africans who don’t run away to Europe to seek a better life but those who stay at home and innovate their way to success, like young Kevin.

Too fast for Africa

At the end of what was a great speech, Adesina retreated from the pulpit, looking satisfied with his delivery. It had been a great delivery. But unlike most deliveries, there was no standing ovation for this one. Delegates looked on in what could have easily been described as awe.

Adesina’s High 5s are not news. These are problems Africa has been battling since independence. Yet not much has been achieved. Why?

The new AfDB President says there is no time to waste. He says he will work with impatience, under pressure to deliver before the ten-year deadline.

But if Adesina is to metaphorically be looked at as a commander ready to launch a war against Africa’s challenges, he will need an army, equally willing to fight at the frontline.

However, what one saw in the audience before him on Thursday morning was an uncertain Africa that appeared to favor taking its time planning the war and finally walking to the frontline.

Adesina says the plan is ready. All he wants is an army ready to fight. In this, he will need allies among some of Africa’s more influential leaders. The line-up of Presidents present at his inaugural Annual Meetings was telling enough.

These included President Paul Kagame, Uhuru Kenyatta, Edgar Lungu and Idriss Deby, President of the Republic of Chad and Chairperson of the African Union.

Will these be enough to convince their other African counterparts to support Dr. Adesina’s new war on barriers to African problems?

During a televised TV debate in Lusaka on which President Kagame and Kenyatta appeared alongside Adesina, the two heads of state assured the AfDB leader of their full support with both of them noting that, Africa has heard the talk, now the continent will be awaiting results.

The 2017 AfDB Annual Meetings will be held in India; perhaps then, there will be tangible results to report, a year later.