By Ikenna Uwadileke, News Agency of Nigeria
Mr Akinwumi Adesina, Minister of Agriculture, under former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration on May 28, 2015 emerged as the President of African Development Bank (AfDB).
He was the first Nigerian to head the AfDB established in 1964.
He was elected the bank’s president, hours after his term of as Minister of Agriculture ended; and he was adjudged as one of the best ministers in Jonathan’s cabinet.
Adesina who recalled his appointment as minister said: “when asked by President Goodluck Jonathan to serve as Minister of Agriculture, I saw it as call to duty to the land of my birth.’’
He explained that with the support of Jonathan and the then President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria campaigned vigorously for the position of the President of AfDB.
He said that all hands were on deck to ensure that Nigeria got the position.
Adesina commended the roles played by former presidents and heads of state: Yakubu Gowon, Abdulsalami Abubakar, Olusegun Obasanjo. Vice Presidents Atiku Abubakar and Namadi Sambo, among others.
Adesina, who recently gave report of his four years stewardship at a forum, disclosed that 181 million people have directly benefitted from the bank’s investments.
He said: “At the African Development Bank, we have worked very hard.
“In my four years as president, we have connected 16 million people to electricity and provided 70 million people with improved agricultural technologies to achieve food security.
“We have also given nine million people access to finance from private sector companies, provided 55 million people with access to improved transport, and 31 million people with access to water and sanitation.
“I am proud of all my staff and the board of directors, whose hard work and relentless support have helped make this happen.
“AfDB has continued to maintain its global AAA Rating, and only last year, the bank was rated the 4th most transparent institution globally.’’
Believing that Adesina performed very well, President Muhammadu Buhari, on Oct. 6, nominated him for re-election as President of AfDB.
The day Buhari endorsed Adesina, coincided with the day the AfDB president received the Emeka Anyaoku Lifetime Achievement Award, in recognition of his outstanding performance
Adesina, who acknowledged that Nigeria had invested so much in him, said that his nomination for a second tenure by President Buhari had once again given him “air in his lungs.’’
An economist, Mr Olugbemiga Michael, said that since Adesina became the president of the bank, it had boosted the image of Nigeria and Africa.
He said that Adesina steered the affairs of the bank creditably, promoted sustainable economic growth and reduced poverty in Africa.
“The Emeka Anyaoku Lifetime Achievement Award, Adesina recently received, in recognition of his outstanding performance is well deserved.
“The recognition was never the expectation or end game, when one was passionate about his work.
““My assessment of his performance has clearly shown that achieving the bank’s High 5s will allow Africa to achieve about 90 per cent of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“So, the faster the bank delivers on the High 5s, the faster Africa will reach her goal and desired destination as a continent,” Michael said.
The AfDB is stepping development in Afric, by focusing on five priorities that are crucial for accelerated economic transformation. The bank calls them the “High 5s’’: Light up and power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialise Africa, Integrate Africa, and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.
Similarly, Mr Barisua Deezim, a financial expert, said that Adesina changed the culture in the bank from one driven by entitlement to one driven by performance.
Deezim, while acknowledging that no organisation can excel without accountability, stressed that the bank’s investments and achievements under Adesina inspired confidence and prospects for Africa’s economic growth and brighter years ahead.
The AfDB, on its website, highlighted some investment projects of the bank in 2017.
The bank supported Morocco with 249.5 million dollars to expand Ouarzazate, the largest solar power plant in the world.
“In Uganda, the bank supported with 105 million dollars for the Bujagali project, expected to generate 300 MW of power and cut electricity tariffs by 50 per cent.
“And in Burkina Faso, the bank supported the development of a 50MW solar project jointly with the French Development Agency, AFD. The project will be the largest utility scale solar power facility in West Africa.
“And now, the bank is spearheading the development of the Desert to Power Initiative, to harness electricity from the sun all across the Sahel.
“Africa needs to promote green growth. At the bank, we are extremely conscious of our climate and environmental responsibilities and leadership role.
“Consequently, we are tripling our climate finance to 40 per cent of our portfolio by 2020.
“We are excited about the progress we are making on agriculture. Last year, we invested 1.16 billion dollars in the sector, the highest ever in the bank’s history,’’ the bank wrote on its website.
While painting a picture of the future of the bank, Adesina said that the bank expects to provide 29.2million Africans with access to electricity with adequate resources between 2018 and 2020.
According to him, the Feed Africa, will allow 45.8 million people to benefit from improved access to agricultural technologies; and the Integrate Africa High 5 will provide 50 million Africans with improved access to transport.
He added that the bank’s High 5 on Industrialising Africa, will enable seven million people to benefit from investment projects and the High 5 on improving the quality of life, will provide 36.8 million people with improved access to water and sanitation.
“The bank continues to deliver impressive results. Since GCI-6, the bank has delivered a 17-fold increase in lending to ADF countries.
“That’s why investing by our shareholders in the bank will help to further accelerate Africa’s development.’’
Adesina also said that the bank launched the Africa Investment Forum (AIF) in order to mobilise African and global pension funds, sovereign wealth funds and institutional investors, to invest in Africa.
He said that the forum would hold in Johannesburg, South Africa, from Nov. 7 to Nov. 9.
“The AIF will be a totally transactional forum, and is expected to become Africa’s premier investment market place.
“Several multilateral development banks have already joined with the bank on this landmark platform, Africa’s largest, to accelerate private investments.
“So, the African Development Bank is reforming, innovating, leading and delivering more for Africa, than ever before.
“With the strong support for a general capital increase by our board of directors, governors of the bank, and the ambassadors representing our shareholders’ countries, Africa will indeed experience a much brighter and impactful future,’’ Adesina said.
Analysts say, that, that future will be brighter if Adesina is given the mandate for a second tenure.