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Africa’s population explosion is a ticking time bomb – African Development Bank Governors


Africa’s population explosion is a ticking time bomb – African Development Bank Governors

Africa’s population explosion is a ticking time bomb – African Development Bank Governors
Photo credit: Reuters | Akintunde Akinleye

The African Development Bank and its East and North African Governors have stressed the need for urgent measures to match the continent’s growing population and youth unemployment, which they likened to a “ticking time bomb.”

The meeting described the continent’s growing young population as a potential growth engine for the world.

“The good news is that the solution is within our reach and will require investments,” said Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank.

At the end of a two-day consultation at the headquarters of the Bank in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, the Bank and the Governors discussed strategizes for closing Africa’s $170 billion infrastructure investment gap.

To bridge the investment gap, ensure inclusive growth, and create employment for the continent’s population, the meeting endorsed the African Development Bank-led African Investment Forum and described it as a timely opportunity to catalyze investments into projects and attract social impact financing to Africa.

Tanzania’s Minister for Finance and Planning, Isdor Mpango, called for closer involvement of the private sector in financing development on the continent.

“The African Development Bank is well positioned to advise and assist Governments and the private sector to come up with bankable projects,” Mpango said, calling for direct resources to provide budget support and investment opportunities.”

Through the African Investment Forum, scheduled for November 7-9, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa, the Bank and its partners intend to showcase bankable projects, attract financing, and provide platforms for investing across Africa. The forum will bring together the African Development Bank and other global multilateral financial institutions to de-risk investments at scale.

“A uniqueness of the African Investment Forum is that there will be no speeches. The only speeches will be transactions,” said President Adesina.

Rwanda’s Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Claver Gatete said: “The African Development Bank has already discussed the concept of the African Investment Forum with us. The Rwandan Government takes this Forum very seriously.”

“Jobs will come from industrialization. The new approach using the African Investment Forum to de-risk the sector and attract investors is the way to go,” said Kiplagat Rotich, Kenyan Finance Minister.

13 per cent of the world’s population is estimated to live in sub-Saharan Africa today. That number is projected to more than double by 2050. Four billion (or 36 per cent of the world’s population) could live in the region by 2100, according to the UN Population Division. Africa is projected to have over 840 million youth by 2050 with the continent having the youngest population on earth.

According to Adesina, “We have 12 years left to the SDGs. It is an alarm bell because if Africa does not achieve the SDGs, the world won’t achieve them. The African Development Bank is accelerating development across Africa through the High 5s. We are deepening our reforms. We deepened our disbursements to the highest levels ever last year and we are leveraging more resources for Africa.”

Tunisia’s Development, Investment and International Cooperation Minister Zied Ladhari recalled how the Bank’s 11-year temporary relocation to his country helped strengthen the bonds between them. “We share the Bank’s vision. Africa is the continent of the future. This is a great Africa moment with the Bank at the centre. Unleashing the potential of African economies is a task which the Bank must accomplish.”

As part of the Bank’s High 5 agenda, 13 million African women have benefitted from new electricity connections and 23 million from improvements in agriculture. Also, 10 million African women have benefited from investee projects

An analysis of the African Development Bank’s impact from 2010-2017 indicates that 27 million Africans gained access to new electricity connections. 899,000 small businesses were provided with financial services. 35 million have benefitted from improved access to water and sanitation.

“With the Bank’s support, Somalia has evolved from a failed to a fragile state,” asserted Somalia’s Finance Minister, Abdirahman Beileh. “The African Development Bank has been with us throughout. Together we can reach the bright light at the end of the tunnel.”

Algeria’s Finance Minister, Abderahmane Raouia, said “The biggest challenge for Africa today is job creation. It is a stake of stability and a lever to pull economic growth upwards. We must offer job opportunities for young people to convince them to stay here on the continent.”

According to Simon Mizrahi, Director, Delivery, Performance Management and Results, the Bank needs to move from billions to trillions in its funding and leveraging effect.

Egypt’s Ambassador to Côte d’Ivoire, Mohamed El-Hamzawi, who represented the Finance Minister, said the country has seen two revolutions in 2011 and 2014. He thanked the Bank for supporting the country’s macroeconomic stabilization, financial reforms, infrastructure, and energy projects, among others.

Morocco’s Economy and Finance Minister, Mohammed Boussaid, praised the Bank’s ambition for Africa, and underscored its support for energy, agriculture and infrastructure projects. He said “a capital increase today is not a choice, it is a necessity. Today, the leading export sector in Morocco no longer belongs to traditional sectors, such as phosphates, but to the automotive industry. This generates jobs and adds value for sustainable and robust growth.”

With a substantive capital increase, the African Development will be able to execute its robust pipeline of operations (15bn in 2018 alone), including infrastructure and regional integration projects. The prospects for 2018-2020 are bright, with 50.3 million people benefitting from improved access to transport compared to 14 million in 2017. Also, more than 35 million people are expected to benefit from new or improved electricity connections, in contrast to 4.4 million delivered in 2017.

East African Ministers share African Development Bank’s vision for the continent

In a historic first, East African Governors of the African Development Bank met with the President Akinwumi Adesina and Executives to discuss economic challenges, opportunities and successes in the continent’s fast-growing powerhouse region.

President Adesina assured the gathering that the Bank intends to make the strategic regional consultations an annual event to allow for more open dialogue, constructive feedback and the acceleration of development reforms.

The Governors – chiefly Finance Ministers and Ministers of Economic Planning representing Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Tanzania – shared these sentiments.

“The High 5s are what Africa needs now,” said Henry Rotich, Kenyan Minister of Finance. “The Bank has financed one of our key interventions, the Last Mile Project, thanks to which 70 percent of Kenyans now have access to power in rural areas. You know what that means? It means more people can work, shop, study and create jobs. If we implement the High 5s successfully, we can address some of the key challenges we face. ”

Similarly, Tanzania’s Minister for Finance and Planning, Isdor Mpang, noted that his country has aligned its own development priorities with the High 5s of the Bank. “We want to be a middle income country,” he said. “How do you do that? These are exactly the five points that you need to work on.”

Somalia’s Finance Minister, Abdirahman Beileh, described the Bank’s unique role in his country’s transition. “With the Bank’s support, Somalia has evolved from a failed to a fragile state,” he said. “The African Development Bank has been with us throughout.”

President Adesina highlighted some of the Bank’s achievements over the last seven years. Approximately 27 million Africans have benefitted from new electricity connections, while 49 million enjoyed improvements in agriculture. Some 35 million gained better access to water and sanitation, and nearly a million small businesses have been provided with financial services. Over the same period, 23 million women saw improvements in agriculture and 10 million were able to take advantage of investee projects.

Lending to low-income countries increased seventeenfold, from $434 million in 2010 to $7.5 billion in 2016. Lending to middle income countries doubled. The Bank’s active portfolio rose from $15 billion in 2010 to $30 billion in 2016.

President Adesina noted that the Bank leveraged $9.73 billion from the capital markets for African countries last year and achieved its highest annual disbursement ever in its history, at $7.67 billion.

Djibouti Finance Minister Hmadou Ibrahim asked the Bank to ensure that infrastructure projects being financed in neighbouring countries are extended to his country, emphasizing the importance of regional integration through rail and roads.

“For a country like mine, regional integration is a survival issue,” he said. “Without regional integration, Djibouti, this link between Africa and Asia, would not exist. As a result, all our investments bear the mark of regional integration to our environment.”

Hassatou N’Sele, the Bank’s Treasurer and acting Finance Vice President, highlighted the Bank’s outstanding private sector portfolio in low-income countries, with close to $2.4 billion funding in 2017. More than 458 companies have been financed by the Bank in these countries.

Matia Kasaijja, Uganda’s Minister of Finance and Economic Planning and Governor for his country at the Bank, expressed strong support for a general capital increase to enable the Bank to accelerate Africa’s social and economic development. He noted that the Bank has retained its AAA rating during challenging economic headwinds when many institutions and countries have been downgraded.

Sudan Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Mohammed Osman Al-Rikabi, said: “Most of our partners have focused on humanitarian support. But the African Development Bank has worked hand in hand with the Government to address macroeconomic issues and development projects. As we battle to recover our economy, the African Development Bank is providing support.”

President Adesina thanked the Governors for their acknowledgement of the Bank’s work in their respective countries.

“Your support and confidence in the Bank are uplifting; they mean a lot to us,” he told them. “You are the wind in our sails.”


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