BY MADUABUCHI EFEGADI
Economic ties between Africa and the Caribbean are taking a strong upward turn as both regions’ premier financial institutions – the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) – came together to advance their collaboration with one another.
This emerged on the side lines of CDB’s 52nd annual meeting in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos where the presidents of the regional development banks – Akinwumi Adesina (of AfDB) and Hyginus ‘Gene’ Leon (of CDB) – agreed to form a joint investment forum.
Adesina delivered the 22nd William G. Demas memorial lecture where he and CDB’s Leon announced that it was an opportune time for the two regions to deepen development and economic ties through a new strategic partnership.
- African ambassadors meet investor Taib in Israel, talk up cooperation
- How significant is Africa to the West, to the world? (7)
- Africa’s e-commerce on song to reach $46.1bn revenue by 2025
- Poor infrastructure blamed for Africa’s slow progress in local innovations
- Nigerian fintech startup, Kora, launches in UK, targets ‘open Africa’
It is a case of one people with similar historical backgrounds, but sorely dissimilar economic performances. Africa, with the larger landmass, vast population of 1.307 billion people (2019), GDP of $3 trillion – presents $1,970 (as of 2021) as per capita income – the Caribbean, with a much smaller population of 18.9 million, and GDP of $82 billion – posts an average per capita income of $4,348, dwarfing the mother Africa.
Adesina’s lecture – “Development in a Context of Global Challenges: experiences and lessons from the African Development Bank” – highlighted shared lessons from the African multilateral bank’s experience dealing with seven global challenges: Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, renewable energy and energy transition, food security and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, infrastructure, debt and resource mobilisation, and inclusive growth for women.
Increased cooperation will entail the two regions – which share deep historical and cultural ties – working closely through their multilateral development banks, particularly in agriculture, to create linkages for the AfDB to help train and provide capacity for the younger generation in agricultural development.
“We must encourage our young people to realise that agriculture is not simply about subsistence farming,” the AfDB chief stressed. “It is a business, and we should be turning out more and more of what I like to call agripreneurs,” Adesina said.
To facilitate a strategic cross-fertilization of transatlantic investments, Adesina proposed building on the existing Africa Investment Forum – a platform it set up in 2018 – to establish an Africa and Caribbean Investment Forum (ACIF).
The two multilateral development institutions further strengthened their collaboration with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in Providenciales. Adesina and Leon signed the MoU on behalf of their institutions. Both banks will work closely across various areas, collaborating on economic diversification initiatives in their respective regions, with an emphasis on deploying technological and digital transformation solutions in commerce, trade, public services, and financial intermediation and inclusion.
The MoU formalises the platform for the two institutions to join forces to promote trade between Africa and the Caribbean. It also enables both regions to work together on the sustainable development of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. The heads of the two development finance institutions agreed that the MoU will play a catalytic role in making their regional economies more resilient, especially for the most vulnerable.
Collaboration by the institutions is expected to promote the development of and access to innovative financing instruments that encourage the flow of funds into the two regions.
“Our challenges and the solutions that we must pursue to address them are similar. Together, we are catalysing the development of our respective regions, making a difference in the lives of our people, ensuring that impact is strong and lasting, and shaping the global narrative about our respective regions and institutions,” Adesina said
Responding, Leon said, “Deepening partnerships and knowledge sharing are critical for us to realise the transformative development of our respective regions as we envision. This agreement will not only strengthen our relationship with the African continent but also fuel the innovative path we are pursuing in areas of mutual interest beneficial to all.”