18 January 2018

Africa: AfDB Must Lead Fight to End Poverty in Africa - Finance Minister

Photo: This Day

Nigeria has urged the African Development Bank, AfDB, to lead the fight to end extreme poverty ravaging conflict affected states in Africa by 2030.

The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, made the call at the commissioning of the new AfDB Nigeria Country Office building in Abuja.

Mrs. Adeosun said considering Nigeria's contributions to the bank since its inception, the country has demanded to be allowed to host the bank as its West Africa regional hub.

"Being the largest shareholder of AfDB since inception and the country with the largest portfolio of projects, we think Abuja - Nigeria is the natural and logical place for the Bank's regional hub," she said.

Nigeria, the minister explained, was a great place to do business, based on the recent World Bank 2018 Ease of Doing Business Report which adjudged the country as one of the ten most improved economies in the world in 2017.

Mrs. Adeosun, who described the challenge of ending extreme poverty and boosting capacity for shared prosperity as the bottom-line, said the government was determined to work with AfDB and other partners to fight poverty and reach the milestone.

She noted AfDB's role on poverty alleviation and development in Africa, saying Nigeria in particular needs the bank and its programme 'High 5s' to realise these objectives.

The AfDB's programme of the 'High 5s' deals with investing more in infrastructure, agriculture, education, healthcare, and increased access to affordable energy and water.

Mrs. Adeosun expressed excitement over the decision by the AfDB Board to build and own its first ever permanent office in Nigeria, outside its headquarters in Abidjan.

"Through this investment, AfDB has made Nigeria the first regional member to host the Bank-owned office complex," the minister said.

She expressed the hope that the building would not only serve as the pride of Africa, but also stand as a worthy testament of AfDB's resolve to contribute in shaping Africa's economy in years to come.

Describing Nigeria as the bank's strong ally with a long-standing relationship that has resulted in several beneficial outcomes, the minister said her wish was for continued cooperation and collaborative engagement.

The improved relationship between Nigeria and the bank, she said, led to a $6 billion investment portfolio spread over 73 projects across other private sectors.

Mrs. Adeosun thanked the President of the bank, Akinwumi Adesina, a Nigerian, for his responsive leadership, which she noted brought landmark transformation in Nigeria and Africa's economies.

While appreciating AfDB's role in supporting Africa in a different way from other multilateral development banks, she noted the assistance to Nigeria at the time the country was in recession.

She acknowledged the $1 billion budget support loan that gave the country a lifeline during the economic recession in 2016 though she said only a part was received.

"We have only $600 million of the loan. That singular act gave the country's foreign reserves the much needed boost, which helped stabilise the Nigerian currency," she said.

The minister canvassed support for Nigeria's quest to emerge as the host of AfDB's regional hub.

In his welcome remarks, the President of the Bank, Mr. Adesina said the bank would continue to support Nigeria and other African countries to accelerate the development of infrastructure and energy in the continent.

"The Bank's portfolio in Nigeria is currently about $6 billion. We expect these investments to grow to about $8 billion by the 2019," Mr. Adesina said.

He said the bank had invested in a number projects in Nigeria to boost infrastructure development, agriculture, power and energy, including over $200 million in the Transmission Corporation of Nigeria, TCN for the building of transmission system in the country .

The building was later commissioned by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari.


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