From Bono to the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, African Development Bank Group (AfDB) President Akinwumi Adesina spent Saturday forging partnerships with people and building alliances with nations.
"In order for the giant in Africa to rise, we must integrate," Adesina said. "We must connect Africa to itself and to the rest of the world."
Adesina was attending the 70th meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, where this year member nations have adopted the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to help spur growth and improve lives around the world.
In a meeting with Abe, Adesina applauded Japan's commitment to growth in Africa and the USD 32 million of support that the Japanese Government made available through the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) V in 2014. Adesina also expressed his delight at the Prime Minister's decision to double the amount of loans for the 54-nation continent under the Enhanced Private Assistance for Africa (EPSA) program, from USD 1 billion to USD 2 billion. "I am pleased to inform you, Mr. Prime Minister, that EPSA II is well on track, and that the USD 2 billion will be fully committed by the end of 2016."
The support helps Adesina move forward with his bold, five-point agenda that addresses power, food security, industrialization, integration and quality of life across the continent. "TICAD has now finally come home to Africa where it belongs," Adesina said. "The African Development Bank stands fully ready to work with you for the success of TICAD VI."
In a private meeting with Bono, Adesina discussed ways in which the AfDB can partner with the musician-turned-venture-capitalist-and-philanthropist, to improve the lives of Africans across the continent. Because, as Adesina says, "development is about people".
Earlier in the day, at a high-level session sponsored by the African Union, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, and the Economic Commission for Africa, Adesina talked about the reciprocal relationship between employment and industrial advancement. "Africa's young people should not be migrating, at great risk, to Europe," Adesina said. "We need them in our industries, not on the high seas. This is why we have called for the establishment of an African Industrialization Financing Facility, to help turn our dreams into reality for Africa," he said. "We can do this."
Another area to which Adesina is deeply committed is gender equalization and women's empowerment. So on Saturday the AfDB's Special Envoy on Gender, Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, was busy mobilizing resources to support the effort.
In a session on "Transformative Financing for Gender Equality", Fraser-Moleketi challenged leaders in to ensure "that national budgets allocate sufficient resources towards achieving gender equality". With African women representing 52% of the total population and being responsible for 75% of the agricultural labour force and producing up to 80% of the food, she said "we must do all we can to ensure they benefit equally from - and participate equally in - the continents' development and transformation story."
It is a story where Africa has made great strides, and Adesina's mission as the 8th President of the AfDB is to keep that momentum going.