Strategic partnerships and investments key to Africa’s economic transformation

The president of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, has taken the case for expanded partnerships and investments in Africa to the Netherlands. On a three-day visit this week, he met with government officials and private and public sector business leaders and affirmed the accord between the Bank and the Dutch government’s development agendas and foreign policy.

Akinwumi-Adesina

At a meeting with Sigrid A.M. Kaag, minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, in The Hague, on 29 August, Adesina spoke about investing in Africa and commended the Netherlands for its support, which has extended to legal systems, water, food and nutrition, and gender. He also congratulated the government for its Development Policy, which emphasises global fragility, gender and climate.

‘Africa is growing economically. Foreign direct investment is on the increase. This is due to political stability and improved governance. Africa is open and ready to do business,’ Adesina says.

Kaag says the adoption of renewable energy by a growing number of African countries was a key element to reducing fragility of countries and to fighting climate change and said this aligned closely with her government’s policy.

‘I am happy to see where we can work together on gender, fragility, and conflict prevention in countries in Africa,’ the minister says.

Making a similar point, Peter van Mierlo, chief executive officer of the Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO), called for greater harmonisation between the work of FMO and the Bank in the area of energy, agriculture and institutional investment. President Adesina met with him and other officials, the same day.

‘A benefit for Africa is that it can skip development cycles that developed countries often had to go through,’ Mierlo says.

Commercial banks are withdrawing from trade finance and as such FMO and African Development Bank would be able to work jointly in boosting trade financing, Mierlo says. Currently, joint projects between FMO and the Bank are estimated at US$ 55 million.

Addressing a High-level Roundtable with Dutch Business Leaders, hosted at Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), on 29 August, Adesina presented the Africa Investment Forum (AIF), the Bank’s innovative marketplace scheduled for 7-9 November in Johannesburg, South Africa. The AIF will bring together project sponsors, lenders, fund managers and investors, to attract investment and capital for development, projects in Africa.

‘Our role is to mobilise capital for Africa. We have done this through the High 5 Agenda. In the energy sector, the African Development Bank is investing US$12 billion over the next 5 years, with the goal of leveraging US$40-50 billion. The Bank will also be investing US$ 24 billion, over ten years, in agriculture to implement its Feed Africa Strategy,’ Adesina says.

Susan Shannon, vice president for Government Relations, Policy & International Organisations for Shell, who was present at the meeting, said the move towards cleaner and renewable energy in African countries had resulted in a higher level of engagement by the oil giant on the continent.

‘Shell can work with the African Development Bank to expand access to energy in Africa,’ Shannon says.

On 30 August in Wageningen, at the Sustainable Development Goal Conference, Adesina repeated the Bank’s call to end hunger on the continent.

‘What Africa does with agriculture will determine the future of food in the world”, he said. “The greatest agenda we have is how to unlock Africa’s agricultural potential. If Africa can get the right technology to raise productivity, transform its savannahs, turn agriculture into a business and address the issue of nutrition. Africa can feed itself in 10 years and contribute to feeding the world in the years to come.’