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AFDB annual meeting ends with call for inclusive growth
June 4, 2017, 10:41 am
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The 52nd African Development Bank Group (AFDB) annual meeting, which was held in Ahmedabad, India, ended on a high note with participants applauding the bank’s healthy balance sheet and its early successes in implementing its ‘High 5’ priorities. The five-day annual meeting held under the theme of ‘Transforming agriculture for wealth creation in Africa’ was inaugurated by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 23 May.  

The Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the Bank from 54 regional member countries and 26 non-regional member states constitutes the core purpose of the gathering. It also provides a unique forum for representatives of government, business, civil society, think-tanks, academia and the media — from Africa and beyond — to debate key issues on Africa’s development, and to discuss the Bank’s performance in delivering on its mandate.

Over 3,500 top government officials, business leaders, representatives of NGOs, civil society, as well as members of the academic community and the media participated in the Annual Meetings, which were preceded by high-level meetings, symposiums and seminars on the bank’s ‘High 5’ priorities — Light up and power Africa; Feed Africa; Industrialize Africa; Integrate Africa; and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.

Speaking on the sidelines of the meeting about an investment forum the bank was going to set up, President of African Development Bank, Akinwunmi Adesina, said, “We are going to set up an African investment forum. This forum is going to be totally transactional forum, where we bring in investors to look at projects that are on the continent and also monitor and evaluate investments that are being made.”

“What we want to do at AFDB is to help to leverage huge pulls of capitals that are sitting out there globally in pension fund, sovereign funds and also similar ones in Africa, into power, into infrastructure, roads, rails, ports and aviation in Africa. So it is going to be a totally transactional forum where we make deals happen. The only currency in that conversation will be deals,” he added.

Reflecting the significance of agriculture in Africa and in the Bank’s development work, the 2017 Annual Meetings was held under the theme: “Transforming Agriculture for Wealth Creation in Africa.” Agriculture has a central place in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the African Union’s Agenda 2063, both of which focus on poverty reduction, overcoming hunger and food insecurity.

Reflecting the global and continental agenda, the Bank has aptly prioritized agriculture transformation by designating it as one of its High 5s: Feed Africa.

Agriculture is an important economic sector in Africa given its centrality to poverty alleviation, food security and economic transformation. Africa spends about US $35 billion per year on food imports and this figure could rise to US $110 billion by 2025.

The potential of the agricultural sector in Africa and the need to bridge the gap on food supply is itself a compelling business case for private sector investment. With over 65% of the world’s remaining arable land, a youthful population – with 420 million people between the ages of 15 and 35 years – and a favorable climate, Africa has the potential to become a global agriculture powerhouse and the setting of the next Green Revolution.

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