The challenges confronting Africa in the coming year are: financing a low carbon development path that delivers growth and inclusivity and the continent’s climate goals; placing climate adaptation at the heart of economic policies; and unleashing Africa’s potential to address food insecurity and feed itself.
This according to Vincent Nhemielle, Secretary General of the African Development Bank Group’s governors, speaking at a recent media conference.
The conference gave participants an idea of the agenda of the Bank’s upcoming annual meetings, which will be held in Egypt from 23 to 26 May.
One of five of the Bank’s vice presidents who were present, Solomon Qaynor, noted that African governments currently have little fiscal room owing to “black swan” events that have occurred in the last three years. These include Covid-19 impacts and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, both of which have had global impacts.
Qaynor is the Bank’s Vice President for Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialisation.
“The context is really limited fiscal space all around for our regional member countries,” he said. “Given that we still have to address the impacts of climate change, we have to really look at alternatives to leverage limited fiscal space and also innovative ways to crowd in the private sector.”
Mobilising private sector investment
He addressed a growing emphasis on mobilising resources from within African countries. As an example, he cited the bank’s partnership with the African Sovereign Investor’s Forum which it agreed last June. The pact represented an important step in terms of increasing the leverage of investments as well as reassuring global investors seeking to invest in Africa, he said. Assets managed by African sovereign wealth funds, African pension funds and African life insurance pools is estimated at over $2 trillion equivalent, according to Quaynor.
Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, Dr. Beth Dunford pointed to recent bank efforts to bolster food security in Africa, which are being complicated not only by external shocks but also climate driven weather events such as cyclones, flooding and droughts.
In January 2023, at a summit hosted by the bank and the government of Senegal, development partners agreed to commit what has since increased to $70 billion to boost agricultural productivity and drive Africa’s resolve to become the world’s breadbasket.
“Sixty-five percent of the world’s arable yet uncultivated land is in Africa; there’s a huge yield gap so huge potential to increase productivity of the agriculture that exists and really seeing that transformation of agriculture to move up the value chain and increase the value addition of crops that are produced in Africa,” Dunford said.
The statutory annual meetings are the African Development Bank Group’s most important event of the calendar year, attracting around 3,000 participants. The 58th Annual Meetings of the Board of Governors of the African Development Bank and the 49th Meetings of the Board of Governors of the African Development Fund will take place in the Sharm El-Sheikh International Conference Centre from 22-26 May.