African Development Bank Group President Dr. Akinwumi Adesina concluded a three-day official visit to Washington DC on Saturday. Alongside the Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, the visit included several bilateral engagements with stakeholders on African development. Adesina garnered broad strong support for a robust 16th replenishment of the African Development Fund, the Bank Group’s concessionary lending arm that supports Africa’s low-income economies. Replenishment efforts continue through October when partners are expected to make their pledges.
During bilateral meetings, United States Assistant Treasury Secretary Alexia Latortue said the African Development Fund was critical to Africa’s development landscape. She assured the Bank President that the US remains a strong and proud supporter of the Fund, which has a strategic focus and delivers impact. Latortue applauded the leadership of Dr. Adesina in developing the Bank’s bold African emergency food production plan to avert the looming food crisis due to the Russian war in Ukraine and assured of the strong partnership of the US Treasury Department on the plan.
Dr. Adesina received similar strong support for the African Development Fund replenishment from other partners, including Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation Matilda Ernkrans, Anne Beathe Tvinnereim, Norway’s Minister for International Development, Vicky Ford, Minister for Africa of the United Kingdom, and Paul Ryan, Director of International Finance and Climate of Ireland. They gave their strong support for the African Development Fund to be allowed to go to the market to leverage its equity and raise more financing for low-income and fragile states.
Adesina affirmed to the shareholders that the African Development Fund’s impact on Africa, through their support, was massive and far-reaching. According to the Swedish Minister Ernkrans “the African Development Bank is doing incredible work and we strongly support the Bank. Sweden supports the African Development Fund to leverage its resources from the market to put more resources for countries. You are doing an excellent job.”
Meeting with the African Union’s Group of 15 Finance Ministers, Adesina outlined the continent’s immediate challenges and the solutions that were being applied to tackle them successfully. Top of Adesina’s list was a plan for massive food production in the face of a looming global food crisis caused by the Russian war in Ukraine, and the need for a more flexible and substantial replenishment of the African Development Fund. The ministers agreed to a joint communique on financing Africa’s economic resilience in turbulent times. They called for a substantial replenishment of the African Development Fund and for the Fund to be allowed to use its equity to leverage more resources from international capital markets to meet the rapidly growing needs of countries in Africa.
Adesina highlighted the Bank’s innovative Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT), a program operating across nine food commodities in more than 30 African countries. He said the Bank will mitigate the effects of the food crisis through an African Food Crisis Response and Emergency Facility – a dedicated facility that will provide African countries with the resources needed to raise local food production and procure fertilizer.
According to Adesina, a fertilizer crisis borne out of the Russian war in Ukraine could put more than $10 billion of food production at risk. He said a Bank-initiated meeting of key global development, finance, and public and private sector leaders is scheduled for mid-May to tackle the access to fertilizers for Africa. Adesina was received at the White House by Dana Banks, Special Assistant to US President Joseph Biden and Senior Director for Africa at the White House. Banks said it is important to mitigate the spill-over of the Russian war in Ukraine on food security in Africa and strongly welcomed the leadership of the African Development Bank on its emergency food production plan for Africa.
Adesina also met with Melinda French Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. French Gates said it is important for Africa to feed itself and focus on nutrition. French Gates expressed strong support for the bold African emergency food production plan developed by the African Development Bank, and she called for a strong replenishment of the African Development Fund. “I will be your strong advocate for G7 countries to do more for the African Development Fund and to put in more resources for Africa”, she said.
A meeting of heads of regional multilateral development banks was held to discuss, among others, the impact the Russian war in Ukraine was having on development across the world. Adesina spoke about its direct impact on food and fertilizer supplies in Africa. He also emphasized the Bank’s climate change collaboration with the Global Center on Adaptation, as well as the Bank’s record-breaking 83% investment portfolio in renewable energy.
Adesina and several multilateral development bank heads agreed there was a need for a common voice on the re-channeling of the International Monetary Fund’s Special Drawing Rights. The Bank President also spoke about the importance of indigenous vaccine production in Africa, and progress being made on the proposed establishment of the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation.
During an engagement at the Atlantic Council earlier in the week, Adesina fielded questions from the Council’s Africa Center Chair, Ambassador Rama Yade, and others, giving a broad perspective of Africa’s challenges and the steps being taken to address them by African countries, with the support of the African Development Bank Group. He called for greater resource mobilization in Africa. In his words “I do not believe in begging. Africa should develop more using its resources”. The Bank Group chief invited his various interlocutors to the African Development Bank Group Annual Meetings taking place from May 23 to 27 in Accra, Ghana.
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