The African Development Bank (AfDB) has, through its High 5s programme, supported the growth and impacted the development of the African continent, its President, Akinwumi Adesina, has said.
Mr Adesina, who spoke at the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Summit in Abuja on Saturday, said through the programme, the AfDB has been able to light up and power Africa, feed Africa, industrialize Africa, integrate Africa and improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.
In the past four years, he said, the bank has helped to support 18 million people connected to electricity; 141 million people with access to agricultural technologies for food security; 13 million people with access to finance; 101 million people with access to improved transport, and 60 million people with access to improved water and sanitation.
He said the bank has made substantial investments in the ECOWAS region, with portfolio investments of about $20 billion focusing on energy and transport infrastructure, private sector, regional financial market integration, water and sanitation.
“The bank has been very responsive during critical times that matter most. We are there always at the right time, with the right product, for the right needs of countries,” Mr Adesina said.
He cited the support to Nigeria, where the bank helped to provide $600 million of budget support that helped it get out of the recent economic recession, and another $500 million to establish the Development Bank of Nigeria.
Another $230 million, he said, was provided by the bank for support towards stabilizing livelihoods in the North-east region of Nigeria.
Apart from Nigeria, the AfDB President said last week the bank also provided about $225 million for both budget support and investment programme to support social investments in Côte d’Ivoire.
Underlining the importance of regional connectivity as critical to boost trade and investments, he said the nank has done a lot to promote regional integration as the core work of the Bank.
As part of the support, he said the bank supported the construction of the Blaise Diagne international airport in Senegal with about €525 million, as well as the provision of another $120 million for the construction of the new Terminal 3 for Kotoka international airport in Ghana.
Also, he said, the bank supported the construction of the Mandela Praia airport in Cape Verde with $55 million, and provided a $130 million to Air Côte d’Ivoire for the acquisition of a new aircraft fleet that has helped boost their capacity.
He said the bank invested as well in the development of ports, including €60 million for the Lomé Container Terminal port; fully financed with $96 million the new landmark SeneGambia Bridge that links The Gambia and Senegal and financed the Regional Express Train of Senegal with €183 million.
During its second Africa Investment Forum last month, he said the bank and its partners mobilized investments of about $2.6 billion for the development of the Accra Sky Train and another $251million towards the Lagos Cable Car Transit System projects.
Other investment supports include the $1.5 billion finance for the development of major transport corridors to improve inter connectivity in the ECOWAS region, including the construction and rehabilitation of 4,000 kilometers of main corridor roads.
“The Lagos-Abidjan Highway will become a reality. It has to! We (AfDB) will deliver on this project. That’s why the African Development Bank has provided $11.1 million to the ECOWAS Commission to develop the Master Plan for the Lagos-Abidjan highway corridor.
“We’ll be providing an additional $13.5 million for the feasibility studies to be completed next year. We expect that construction will start in 2022,’ Mr Adesina said.
To help boost industrial development, manufacturing and competitive value chains for countries in the region, he said the bank invested about $100 million to support Guinea (the largest producer of bauxite globally) move toward its transformation into aluminum, including a railway network to link its bauxite mining area to the port of Boke.
The bank has also helped to syndicate a $600 million financing facility for Ghana’s COCOBOD, in partnership with Credit Suisse, while doing the same for Côte d’Ivoire, to help the two largest producers of cocoa transform their cocoa into value added products and be competitive in the global cocoa value chains.
The bank is also investing $25 billion for financing agriculture, food and agribusiness in Africa, with the goal of turning Africa into a global powerhouse in food and agriculture.
”The bank will be supporting the development of several Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones, across several counties.
“Special Agro-industrial processing zones for competitive agricultural value chains for regional and global markets will be established from cotton, textile and garments, high value horticulture, dairy, livestock, cashew etc.
“The bank is financing special agro-industrial processing zones in Northern Togo, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal and will be expanding rapidly across countries in the region, including Nigeria,” he said.
To support industrialization, he said the Bank is facilitating access to power by providing universal access to electricity through the investment of $546 million in power interconnection for The Gambia River Basin area and supporting the power interconnection to link Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
Apart from support to the interconnection to link Nigeria, Niger, Benin, and Burkina Faso, the bank is also supporting the power interconnection to link Guinea and Mali; strengthening the West Africa Power Pool, a critical part of ECOWAS master plan for development of the regional power generation and transmission infrastructure.
With these investments, Mr Adesina said, the AfDB expects the electricity grids of 14 ECOWAS countries to be connected by 2020.
This year, he said, the bank launched the $20 billion Desert to Power initiative to develop the world’s largest solar zone with 10,000 MW of power from solar, for the Sahelian countries, to provide electricity for 250 million people, with 90 million from off grid solar systems.
With the share capital of the bank now increased from $93 billion to $208 billion, he said the bank is determined to accelerate Africa’s development and integration, unlock the full potential of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
“We will integrate the ECOWAS region. I see much hope ahead: transport corridors and highways. Railways connection across the region.
“An integrated monetary zone and financial markets. A zone free for trade, with free movement of people, capital, goods and services. An ECOWAS region whose new currency would be ECO. And the echoes of that will reverberate across the world,” he said.