The 57th Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank and the 48th meeting of the African Development Fund (ADF), the bank’s concessional lending window, kicked off in Accra Ghana on Monday May 23. Scheduled to run through Friday May 27, the 2022 meetings are holding under the theme: Achieving Climate Resilience and a Just Energy Transition for Africa.
Speaking to journalists at a press briefing, the Bank Group President, Dr Adesina proclaimed that “The African Development Bank Group has delivered for Africa!” Among these deliverables, he detailed the great feats in Covid-19 mitigation, agriculture, and energy the Bank Group had accomplished in the face of tremendous challenges.
Adesina touted the Bank’s success with its $10 billion rapid response to the Covid-19 pandemic through the Crisis Response Facility, https://bit.ly/3wO1Ida launched to support countries. He also highlighted the boldness of the AfDB in launching a three billion social Impact Bond on the global Capital market, the largest ever in world history with the US dollar denominator. According to Dr Adesina, the historic size of the bond is because “we cannot joke with the lives of Africans.”
Coming on the heels of the Russian invasion of Ukraine running to its third month, Dr Adesina echoed alarm bells of a “looming food crisis” because Africa can no longer import 30 million metric tons of food as a result of the war. In the same breath, however, he stated that Africa is ready and has what it takes to weather the storm.
Again, the Bank Group has stepped up and delivered for Africa, said Adesina, as together with the African Union Commission it has developed and launched the $1.5 billion African Emergency Food Production Plan. According to sources, https://bit.ly/3PCBSl2 the Bank’s Board of Directors approved the plan last Friday May 20, 2022.
The plan will provide 20 million farmers with improved seeds and fertilizers, as well as other farm inputs, to produce 38 million metric tons of food, worth $12 billion. This will include 11 million metric tons of wheat, 18 million metric tons of maize, 6 million metric tons of rice, and 2.5 million metric tons of soybeans.
“We are not moonlighting in Agriculture. We know what we are doing,” Adesina reassured, adding that “Our work plan is based on the incredibly successful work of the AfDB through its High 5s agenda especially its Feed Africa program”. The Feed Africa program was launched six years ago.
“The Bank’s Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) has delivered climate-smart seeds to 12 million farmers in 27 countries.”
TAAT delivered water-efficient maize to 5.6 million households in East Africa, an area hit by severe droughts three years ago, helping farmers secure food supply. In Sudan it financed the provision of 65,000 metric tons of heat-tolerant wheat varieties, which seeds enough to fill 665 Airbus aircrafts. Just two years later, Sudan reduced its wheat import by 50 percent. Meanwhile in Ethiopia, with TAAT financed provision of 65,000 metric tons of heat-tolerant varieties, Ethiopia has 650,000 hectares’ worth of wheat production, having harvested 2.6 million metric tons of wheat. Ethiopia did not import wheat this year. Next year, Ethiopia intends to cultivate two million hectares and is expected to export at least 1.5 to 2 million metric tons of wheat to Kenya and Djibouti.
For Africa to become a major player in global food, it must transform its over 400 million hectares of savannah which is arguably better than Brazil’s, the Bank President maintained. Brazil is the largest exporter of beef and dairy products among others.
Pivoting to this year’s theme, the Bank’s Chief executive painted in clear terms the threat Climate change poses to Africa: He noted that nine out of ten of the most vulnerable countries to climate change in the world are in Africa and Africa is the second most vulnerable region in the world to climate change. The paradox is while Africa contributes less than four percent to greenhouse emissions she suffers disproportionately from negative consequences.
Here again the Bank is delivering solutions as it is spearheading investments in renewable energy with such projects as the Noor Ouarzazate in Morocco, the largest concentrated solar power plant in the world; Kenya’s Lake Turkana, the largest wind-power station in Sub-Saharan Africa; and the $20 billion Desert-to-Power program in the Sahel which will turn the Sahel of Africa into the world’s largest solar zone.
Yet, Adesina noted that renewables alone cannot power Africa. Natural gas must remain a fundamental part of the Africa’s Just energy transition because we need stable energy systems. Africa needs to combine renewables with natural gas to assure stability, improve access and affordability as well as energy security.
The challenge Africa faces is how to mobilize more resources for climate change in Africa. While Developed countries promised providing $100 billion a year to allow African countries to adapt to climate change, this has remained as pledges. Adesina reminded them that “The only promises that matter are the promises that are kept.”
At this year’s meeting, the Bank together with the Global Centre on Adaptation will explore how to mobilize $25 billion to fund climate adaptation in Africa.
It is a time of celebration as the Bank is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the African Development Fund which has provided $45 billion in support of Africa’s low-income countries.
“I don’t want to be the president over an African Development Bank that leads to bifurcation of growth opportunities between countries,” remarked Dr Adesina. “The Low-Income Countries, Fragile states deserve support to have infrastructure, water, sanitation to be able to stabilize their economy and participate effectively in growth processes. No country should be left behind.”