AfDB president says bank has 'finally come into its own' amid reforms

Akinwumi Adesina, president at the African Development Bank. Photo by: Eric Roset / CC BY

ABIDJAN — Amid an ongoing reform process, African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina told ambassadors representing the bank’s 80 member countries that “all is well” and that AfDB has “finally come into its own” and positioned itself to be recognized as Africa’s premier finance institution.

Adesina summed up the current trajectory of the bank as one of reforming, changing, delivering, and leading.

“We are working hard to make ourselves a more nimble, efficient, and impact-driven organization that accelerates Africa’s development, that holds itself to a higher standard of performance, that delivers more, and one that leads,” Adesina told an audience of roughly 200 invitees to a special luncheon last week.  

“Shareholders asked us for reforms, for greater value for money … to change the culture in the bank from one driven by entitlement to one driven by performance, and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” he said. He added that the bank has reached a crossroads where there’s a need for greater alignment, performance, and accountability for results to make AfDB fitter for purpose and to accelerate delivery.

The current “High 5” agenda framework guides the bank’s financing and priorities with an emphasis on job creation, industrialization, expanding access to electricity, unlocking the potential of Africa’s agriculture sector, and increasing regional integration.

In 2017, AfDB investments in the energy sector covered 31 operations in 23 countries, and totaled $1.39 billion. These efforts connected 3.8 million people to electricity, many via off-grid connections. All of the bank’s new lending in the energy portfolio was to renewable energy projects, up from a 14 percent of the portfolio share in 2015. In relation to its priority to “light up and power Africa,” AfDB also helped leverage $6 billion for the Japan-Africa Energy Financing Facility.

The bank also invested in fragile countries, such as the Central African Republic where it invested $20 million to help develop the Central Africa Fiber Optic backbone to boost IT connectivity and expand internet access for at least 20 percent of the population.

To be more responsive to the continent’s development needs, AfDB has also undergone a structural transformation which includes both the adoption of three new vice presidencies — each with a specific set of focuses aligned with the High 5 agenda — and a new business model that includes the establishment of five regional integration offices to bring the bank closer to its clients.

The way forward

On a wider scale, AfDB will continue its focus on ensuring the creation and implementation of stronger macroeconomic policies in regional member countries going forward, Adesina said.

With adequate resources between 2018-2020, the bank expects to provide 29.2 million people with access to electricity, improve access to agricultural technologies for 45 million farmers, provide 50 million Africans with improved access to transportation, and provide 36.8 million with improved access to water and sanitation, Adesina explained.

Adesina announced the bank’s effort to triple climate finance to 40 percent of the bank’s portfolio by 2020 as a way of promoting green growth. “At the bank we are extremely conscious of our climate and environmental responsibilities and leadership role,” he said.

To mobilize African and global pension funds, sovereign wealth funds and institutional investors to invest in Africa, the bank will host the first Africa Investment Forum in South Africa this November, which is intended to be a transactional forum with hopes of it growing into Africa’s premier investment marketplace.

Read more Devex coverage of the African Development Bank.

About the author

  • Christin Roby

    Christin Roby worked as the West Africa Correspondent for Devex, covering global development trends, health, technology, and policy. Before relocating to West Africa, Christin spent several years working in local newsrooms and earned her master of science in videography and global affairs reporting from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Her informed insight into the region stems from her diverse coverage of more than a dozen African nations.