LAGOS – Science and gender equality are both vital for the achievement of the internationally agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Africa.
Over the past 15 years, the global community has made a great deal of effort in inspiring and engaging women and girls in science in the Continent. Unfortunately, women and girls have continued to be excluded from participating fully in science.
Recently, the African Development Bank (AfDB) President Akinwumi Adesina at the Bank’s flagship publication, the African Economic Outlook 2019 in Abidjan, predicted confident of very promising future for continent
Adesina , who expects growth of 4 per cent this year and 4.1 per cent in 2020 for the continent said:“The future of our continent is looking very promising indeed”.
He referred to the Bank’s recent flagship publication, the African Economic Outlook 2019, which noted that the recovery in commodity prices is driving domestic demand and infrastructure investment, while real Africa’s GDP continued to improve in 2018 to 4.1 per cent.
According to him, “Economic opportunities in Africa are generating considerable interest from a market stall to cyberspace globally.”
For example, the agreement in March 2018 establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will create the largest free trade area in the world.
“The CFTA will provide an unprecedented framework with the capacity to increase trade by at least 100 per cent in Africa.
“The African Development Bank is at the centre of the actions taken to ensure the success of the continental free-trade area. We have invested over one billion dollars to support the financing of trade in Africa”
The Bank, whose triple-A rating with stable outlook has been reconfirmed by the four major global rating agencies, has also invested $1 billion in Afreximbank, including $650 million in credit lines for trade finance and $350 million in insurance.
The free movement of people on the continent is another important driver of development.
“We need to break down all barriers that impede the free movement of people across the continent, especially that of workers, because this is vital for promoting investment,” Adesina said.
It would be recalled that in its report on intra-African investment, the African Development Bank emphasised the significant increase in cross-border investments – $12 billion last year, up from $2 billion in 2010.
Under the G20 Compact with Africa, the Bank has worked with the World Bank and the IMF to provide assistance to African countries, particularly to improve company regulations and the business environment.
“Africa will not develop through aid, but through investment”, said Adesina.
This is why the African Development Bank, with its partners, launched the highly successful Africa Investment Forum (AIF), in Johannesburg, South Africa last November, securing investment interest in 49 deals across Africa worth over $38 billion in just two days.
The African Development Bank continues to invest in infrastructure to connect countries and improve their competitiveness.
It has provided $16 million to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for the preparation of feasibility studies for the Lagos-Abidjan corridor. It has also funded 1000 kilometres of road between Addis Ababa and Mombasa, which has increased trade fivefold between Ethiopia and Kenya
The Bank was the lead lender for the construction of the historic Senegambia bridge linking Gambia and Senegal, which opened on 21 January 2019. And the Bank’s investment portfolio in Côte d’Ivoire has tripled in the last three years, reaching $1.8 billion in 2018.
The Bank is taking a lead role in the “Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation” (TAAT) initiative, which seeks to accelerate the dissemination of agricultural technologies throughout the continent, not only to improve yields, but also to fight against the consequences of global warming and against pests, such as Fall Armyworm.
“The crucial point for the economic development of Africa is that we have to radically transform our agriculture,” Adesina declared.
The Bank’s High Five, priorities are already producing significant impacts across the continent,” said the Bank’s President.
In 2018, 4.5 million people were connected to electrical grids. Nearly 20 million more people have access to improved agricultural technologies.
Industrial investments in the private sector have benefited 1.1 million people.
Some 14 million people have gained access to improved transport services, while another eight million people have benefited from better access to water and sanitation. These impacts encourage the Bank to redouble its support for economic and social development in Africa.
“We need to achieve universal access to electricity. We need to help Africa to become self-sufficient in food. We need to achieve a fully integrated continent. We need to industrialise Africa and improve the quality of life for its people,” Adesina concluded.
Recall that at the weekend, Korea and the African Development Bank intend to extend the programme to other countries and regions in Tunisia and Africa, and explore the massive market potential of industrial zones in other sectors.
Adesina said, “We are determined to expand the use of drones in agriculture in Africa. What we do in Africa today, will determine global food security tomorrow.”
For the President of the African Development Bank, it is important that the technological partnership with Korea translates into capacity building on the ground, through training, so that Africa can industrialize, build or assemble drones.
Busan City’s dominance as a Smart City on the cutting of artificial intelligence is thanks in part to political vision, one of the largest research and development expenditures in the world, and a team of 12,000 researchers and scientists.
Speaking afterwards to the African diplomatic corps in Seoul, Adesina identified three main obstacles to private sector development —access to finance, energy and stability. The Bank has invested $1 billion in AfreximBank, including $ 650 million in trade finance lines of credit and $ 350 million in trade insurance. The Bank has also invested $ 630 million in First Rand Bank and AbSA in South Africa to support expanded access to trade finance for 20 countries.