The Mahatma Mandir Convention and Exhibition Center in Gandhinagar area of Ahmedabad in Gujarat State is a bee-hive of activity as officials put final touches to preparations for the 52nd Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank Group which holds from 22-26 May 2017..
Ahmedabad city with a population of 3.5million, is situated at 926 km south-east of Delhi. The area has been spruced up and readied to receive some 3,000 delegates invited to the Bank's most important statutory flagship annual event. The state itself, which is famous for its rich cultural diversity, is home to over 20 million people who claim Mahatma Gandhi, India's foremost statesman, as their eternal forebear and hero.
The state thus provides a unique venue for the meeting of minds, where government representatives, businesses, civil society, think-thanks, academia and the media - from Africa and beyond - converge to debate key development issues and the Bank's performance in delivering on its mandate. Governors of the Bank Group, usually finance, economy, planning ministers or central Bank governors, represent the 54 African (Regional Member Countries and 26 Non-regional Member countries who own the Bank.
The Annual Meetings Central theme, "Transforming Agriculture for Wealth Creation in Africa, mirrors India's famous Green Revolution which saved millions of people from famine and reflects agriculture's vast linkages to other sectors and its centrality to Africa's efforts towards poverty alleviation, food security and economic transformation.
The meetings will show-case one of the Bank's prime creations, the activities of agripreneurs, an Africa-wide initiative launched to attract young graduates to engage in farming as a lucrative business.
Key discussion will focus on how the Bank's High 5s, especially agriculture and energy can be leveraged to promote Africa's transformation. These include a series of Presidential forums on critical agro-industry issues such as Leadership for Agricultural Transformation; Creative Energy Solutions to Boost African Agriculture, Innovative Financing for Agriculture, Financing African Infrastructure, women in Agriculture, and Changing Perceptions on Agriculture: the Role of the Entertainment Industry ("Nollywood Meets Bollywood); among other varied topics and issues.
"Our goal is clear: achieve food self-sufficiency for Africa in ten years, eliminate malnutrition and hunger and move Africa to the top of agricultural value chains," says AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina." The Bank is investing US$24 billion in agriculture and agribusiness on the continent in the next 10 years.
There is a general consensus that the Bank is now better positioned and fit to respond to Africa's development needs, following a successful transformation process that have, among other benefits, helped the institution to scale up its operations in the critical High 5s priorities (Light up and power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialise Africa, Integrate Africa, and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa).
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Adesina will give opening statements that will focus on supporting the Bank's transformation agenda, its relations with India and Asian partners as well as how these relations can be improved to help advance Africa's cooperation with India in particular and Asian countries as a whole.
The launch of 2017 African Economic Outlook (AEO) and a book on "Beating the Odds: Jump-Starting Developing Countries," along with the Financial Presentation on the Bank's balance sheet the previous year, are among highlights of the meetings.
"The Annual Meetings of the AfDB this year provide not just an opportunity for the Governors and other delegates to dwell upon the issues and challenges that we together face, it would provide a perfect occasion for India and Africa to deepen our economic cooperation and partnership," says Arun Jaitley, India's Finance Minister, AfDB Governor for India and the Meetings chief host.
These include series of Regional Sessions on India-West Africa Economic Cooperation, India-Central & South Africa Forum on Connectivity; Indi-East Africa Business Forum; and India - North Africa Trade Forum will also feature prominently in the discussions,
Bilateral meetings and briefings by organisations and businesses, as well as expositions will also take place on the sidelines of the Meetings.
Presidents Macky Sall of Senegal and Patrice Talon of Benin as well as former Ghana President John Mahama are among African leaders invited to the Meetings. Cote d'Ivoire's Vice President Kablan Duncan and his Nigerian Counterpart, Yemi Osinbajo are also expected to attend
The Ahmedabad gathering is the fourth time the Annual Meetings are hosted by a non-regional member country, after Valencia, Spain, in 2000; Shanghai, china in 2007; and Lisbon, Portugal in 2011.
The AfDB, rated triple 'A' had a subscribed capital of US$81.79 billion at the end of 2016. The institution approved 5,279 operations totaling US$131.63 billion loans and grants, since it was established in 1964 to support the economic development and social progress of its 54 regional member countries. The Bank Group is headquartered in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire.