The new President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Nigeria’s Dr Akinwumi Adesina, has said that he will tackle head-on, African countries’ chronic energy challenges in order to unlock the economic potentials of the continent, agency sources say.
The Street Journal recalls that Adesina, Nigeria’s immediate past Minister of Agriculture, who was elected AfDB’s 8th President in May and sworn in on Tuesday for a 5-year term, stated this at his swearing-in in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.
The new AfDB boss said that energy poverty on the continent has to be solved as a matter of urgency and is a sine qua non for unlocking Africa’s economic potentials.
Adesina said: “This is going to be my most important priority, because Africa has to industrialise.
“Unlocking the continent’s economic potential would help in ending its vulnerability to fluctuations in commodity prices.
“We have to add value so that Africa does not expose itself to the continued volatility of global prices for commodities.
“Though it boasts nearly a billion people, sub-Saharan Africa consumes about as much power as Spain, with less than five percent that number, due to poor generating capacity and limited transmission networks.
“Two-thirds of Africans have no access to electricity. The lack of reliable power grids is a major obstacle to industrialising the continent’s economies at a time when Africa hopes to make a transition from commodities producer to a manufacturing hub and challenge Asia where labour costs are rising.’’
According to Adesina, the International Energy Agency, IEA, says that Africa needs to invest an additional 450 billion dollars in the power sector so as reduce continental blackout by a half in 2040.
Adesina who predicted that Africa could achieve electricity access for all in urban areas by 2040, said the continent could also attain a double-digit GDP growth rates if the energy issue is adequately addressed.
Adesina, a development economist and First Class graduate of Agricultural Economics from the Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU, Ile-Ife, with a Doctorate Degree in Adric Economics from Purdue University, USA, also said that African countries can borrow a leaf from Asia.
China and other Asian countries, he said, use abundant cheap labour to take advantage of globalisation and attract investment, adding that, as wages rise in China and elsewhere in Asia, Africa can offer a competitive edge with its cheaper workforce.
Adesina’s inauguration was attended by Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Obasanjo, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari and many other dignitaries.