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AfDB Presidency: A war between love & hatred for Africa’s development

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afdb-presidency:-a-war-between-love-&-hatred-for-africa’s-development

By Solomon Oladipupo

“The wind of change is blowing through this continent…whether we like it or not….” – Harold MacMillan

Harold MacMillan’s “Wind of Change” Speech dates back to February 1960 when he addressed the South African Parliament. However, the extractions obtained from it best describe the current socio-economic realities that Africa currently grapple with.

A wind of positive change is blowing through Africa, and both her lovers and haters alike, can attest to this fact.

In other words, on the continent of Africa, a new consciousness is taking root, one of which harps on the imperative to be part of humanity’s quest for solution to existential challenges, rather than a constant reminder [sometimes harbinger] of the world’s problems.

The African Paradox

Hunger, malnutrition, disease prevalence, poverty, etc. are negative development markers with which Africa has long been associated. So, a turnaround, indeed any turnaround, should understandably be a big deal.

Of course, depending on whether you love or hate the progress, engagement with this turnaround will differ. Accordingly, there are those who view Africa’s new-found disposition as a welcome development, insisting that this will help the quest to even up the world’s gaping inequalities. But, for others, this new reality poses a major threat. For them, Africa is best left in misery, without a seat at the table of human development.

No! She must remain in a state of destitution, unable to provide even the most basic necessities of life for her teeming population. These two blocks are at war. It goes on every second, minute, hour and day. Interestingly, the theaters of engagement are all over.

Rooting for Change

A case in point is the African Development Bank. Nowhere is the battle for Africa’s relevance in the human development story more compellingly illustrated than in the significant vote which will be cast today.

Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina, the Bank’s President, whose half-a-decade oversight has seen the AfDB achieve particularly remarkable strides in engendering socioeconomic development in Africa, is up for re-election.

Indeed, a testament to Adesina’s remarkable stewardship is the fact he is running unopposed. The African Union unanimously endorsed his candidature, underscoring the profound impact of the Bank’s “High5 Strategy” on the continent, developmentally.

Without a doubt, Africa like the rest of the world, is faced with the grim consequences of the COVID-19 Pandemic which has all but extirpated the economic growth momentum gained in recent years. But with a Triple -A rated development finance institution like the AfDB to count on, the path to recovery is certain to be less bumpy.

But the Bank must have the right leadership to deliver on this onerous task. It is significant that nobody in Africa challenged Adesina for the job, knowing that he only can steer the Bank towards this objective.

The Best Man for the Job

Since his appointment in 2015, Adesina has consistently attained landmark objectives, helping to redefine and entrench the strategic influence of AfDB – all for the growth and progress of Africa.

In 2019, he led the Bank to secure an unprecedented General Capital Increase of $115 billion, from $93 billion to $208 billion – the highest in the history of the Bank since its establishment in 1964.

Under Adesina, the AfDB also successfully raised about $7 billion in funds from donor countries for the African Development Fund’s 15th replenishment for low-income countries – an increase of 35%. Adesina also led the establishment of the Africa Investment Forum (AIF) to mobilize massive flow of single and blended capital to Africa. The inaugural launch held in Johannesburg, South Africa, secured $38.7 billion in less than 72 hours. The 2019 version of the event returned higher numbers.

In March 2020, the Bank raised a historic $3 billion social bond to help alleviate the economic and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on African economies. This bond, as described by analysts, is the largest dollar-denominated Social Bond ever launched in the international capital market to date.

Regarding transparency and accountability, the independent ratings of the AfDB are stellar. “Publish What You Fund”, a global campaign for aid transparency, ranked the bank 4th among 45 global multilateral and bilateral institutions. It’s recently returned AAA ratings complete the story. The Bank is solid, well-managed and competent to deliver on its terms of reference.

Through its High5s Strategy, Adesina has led the Bank to transform Africa across sectors. For instance, while over 18 million Africans are estimated to have enjoyed access to electricity under AfDB’s Light Up and Power Africa initiative, at least 13 millions benefitted from access to finance from the private sector through its Industrialise Africa strategy. In the same vein, over 101 million people enjoyed better access to transportation under the Integrate Africa strategy. Again, this same laudable achievement was recorded under the Improved Quality of Life for the People of Africa. At least 60 million people have benefitted from freer access to water and sanitation, according to statistics from the institution.

These achievements have seen him recognized all over the World. The World Food Prize, Sunhak Peace Prize are just a few of the multiple acclaim to have gone his way. However, the road has not been devoid of trials for the AfDB Chieftain. The recent futile attempt to impugn his integrity is a pointer to the existence of an opposing side to Africa’s positive evolution.

A Case of Detractors

It is obvious that despite these unassailable achievements, there are those who chose the path of ignominy by hiding behind the Bank’s Whistleblower Policy to make guttural allegations against Adesina. Clearly, the smear campaign was geared towards distracting attention from his remarkable achievements.

The Bank’s institutional framework held strong through its governance structures resulting in Adesina’s exoneration by both the Ethics Committee of the Board of Directors of the Bank and an independent Review Panel set up by the Bank’s Board of Governors. These bodies only served to underscore his integrity. However, this effort needs to go on record as a failed attempt to prevent Adesina from vying for a second term in office.

Choosing Love over Hate

A return to office for the AfDB President will undoubtedly add momentum to Africa’s movement on the growth path, particularly at this time of unprecedented economic setbacks. So, as the Bank’s shareholders gather to cast the historic virtual votes for Adesina’s re-election, the lines are drawn between those who love Africa and those who do not.

The signs however indicate that the “wind of change” is blowing strongly in love’s favor.

Nigeria’s Akinwunmi Adesina gets second term as AfDB boss

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