Opening Speech by Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina President and Chairman, Boards of Directors The African Development Bank Group - Annual Meetings, African Development Bank Group - Nairobi, Kenya 29 May 2024

African Development Bank president Akinwumi Adesina addressing the meeting of the Bureau of the Boards of Governors at the opening of the Bank’s 59th Annual Meetings being held in Nairobi, Kenya.
30 May 2024
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African Development Bank (Abidjan)

Your Excellency Dr. Willian Samoei Ruto, President of the Republic of Kenya,

Your Excellency Mr. Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo,

Your Excellency Mr. Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda,

Your Excellency Mr. Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe,

Your Excellency Mr. Mohamed Younis al-Menfi, President of the Presidency Council of the Government of National Unity of the State of Libya,

Your Excellency Mr. Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud, President of the Federal Republic of Somalia,

Your Excellency Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission,

Your Excellency Mr. Prosper Bozombanza, Vice President of the Republic of Burundi, representing H.E. President Évariste Ndayishimiye,

Your Excellency Ms. Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, Prime Minister of the Republic of Namibia, representing H.E. President Nangolo Mbumba,

Your Excellency Mr. Ali Lamine Zeine, Prime Minister of the Republic of Niger,

Your Excellency Mr. Alexandre Barro Chambrier, Vice Prime Minister of the Republic of Gabon,

Your Excellencies representing Heads of State and Government,

Your Excellency Mr. Joaquim Chissano, former President of the Republic of Mozambique,

Prof. Njuguna Ndung’u, Cabinet Secretary of the National Treasury of Kenya, and the Chairman of the Boards of Governors of the African Development Bank Group,

Your Excellency Dr. Muhammad Sulaiman Al Jasser Chairman, President and Chairman of the Islamic Development Bank Group,

Your Excellency Jin Liqun, President of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank,

Honourable Heads of national Institutions of the Republic of Kenya,

Honourable Governors of the African Development Bank Group,

Honourable Cabinet Secretaries,

Your Excellencies, Heads of Diplomatic Missions,

Heads of International Organizations and Development Partners,

Dear Executive Directors of the African Development Bank Group,

Dear Senior Management and staff members of the African Development Bank Group

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

And of course, my beautiful darling wife, Grace, my number one supporter, counselor, and friend,

Good morning!

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to the 2024 Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank Group. These Annual Meetings take on a special nature this year, as they mark the 60 th  anniversary of the establishment of the African Development Bank Group. We are delighted that you are able to join us on this auspicious occasion.

I wish to thank H.E. President William Ruto for accepting to host these Annual Meetings in the beautiful country of Kenya and the sunshine city of Nairobi. I wish to thank you all, Heads of State and Government for making time to join us on this special occasion. We are truly delighted that all our shareholders are here, represented by our dear Governors.

Your collective support, advocacy and financial commitments to the African Development Bank Group make us who we are and afford us the opportunity to serve as Africa’s premier financial institution. We are inspired by the vision of our founding fathers, and mindful of our position and role within the global financial architecture, as well as the responsibility placed on us by the African Union to mobilize financing for Africa’s development.

We carry the hopes and aspirations of Africa in our institutional genes, and in our corporate soul.

As we gather today, we do so against the backdrop of major global challenges, including heightened geopolitical tensions, the disruption of global supply chains, rising food and energy prices, increasing debt service payments, and climate change.

The devastating effects of climate change are everywhere, from droughts to floods, from cyclones to unpredictable weather patterns, with a loss of lives and property, and enormous fiscal costs to countries.

May I please kindly request that we all stand to observe a moment of silence in honor all those who lost their lives during the recent floods in Kenya and other countries who have been devastated by the effects of a climate change they did not cause or even know about.

[minute of silence]

May their souls rest in peace.

Even as we remember them, we must be resolute about taking decisive action to build more climate-resilient economies. That’s why I applaud President Ruto for hosting the landmark Africa Climate Summit here in Kenya, where we collectively agreed to put Africa at the heart of global climate change efforts, especially climate adaptation.

African economies are showing resilience, despite the challenges posed by climate change, geopolitical tensions, global inflation and rising debt, among others. The African Development Bank projects that Africa’s real GDP growth will rise from 3.1% in 2023 to 3.7% in 2024 and 4.3% in 2025. Importantly, despite the headwinds, more than half of African countries (31) achieved higher real GDP growth rates in 2023 than in 2022. And, most importantly, 10 African countries are among the 20 fastest growing economies in the world.

The African Development Bank Group strongly supports African economies. In 2023, our financing totaled over $10 billion, across all our High 5 priorities to: Light up and Power Africa; Feed Africa; Industrialize Africa; Integrate Africa; and improve the quality of life of the people of Africa. These High 5s are the accelerators of Africa’s development.

The bottom line is that the African Development Bank delivers.

Since we launched these High 5s in 2016, our financing has impacted the lives of over 400 million people.

Last year, our work had significant impacts across the continent with 11 million farmers provided with access to improved agricultural technologies; 8 million people provided with access to new sanitation facilities; 3.5 million people provided access to improved transport; 2.8 million people provided with better health services; 1 million people provided with access to clean water; and over 443,000 enterprises provided with access to finance.

The African Development Bank is highly responsive.

When the Russian war in Ukraine erupted, it posed tremendous food security risks to Africa. To forestall a crisis, the Bank launched a $1.5 billion emergency food production facility, to support Africa’s ambitions to reduce its food dependency over a two-year period. As of April 2024, we have approved loans and grants of $1.496 billion for emergency food production in 35 countries. With $323 million of additional support from Japan, the US, Norway, Germany and the Netherlands, we have fully committed over $1.8 billion to 35 countries.

I am pleased to report that we have reached 10.5 million farmers and supported the production of 26 million tons of food, valued at $10.79 billion or 90% of our target market value.

The African Development Bank Group is a strategic partner of choice, trusted by countries.

Right here in Kenya, our support is making a huge difference. As President Ruto mentioned to me when I visited him, “Thanks to the African Development Bank, we increased the number of households connected to electricity from 2.5 million to over 10 million by 2023.”

On one of my trips to a village where the Bank supported last mile connectivity for low-income households, a lady, whose name was Grace (not my wife, Grace!), told us of the impact of our work. When asked if she knows Dr. Adesina, she said, “No”. When asked if she was aware that the African Development Bank financed the project, she said, “No”. Then she said, “All I know is we once were in darkness, now we have light.”

Our impact is felt where it matters most, in the lives of the people we serve.

The African Development Bank has consistently invested heavily in infrastructure. In the past nine years, we have invested well over $50 billion in infrastructure projects on the continent, by far the largest investment of any multilateral Development Bank or institution.

And the impacts are visible.

We are raising $3.2 billion for the East Africa standard gauge railway connecting Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi.

We are providing $500 million towards the development of the Lobito corridor to link Zambia, Angola and the DRC.

We are mobilizing $375 million for financing the railway linking Nigeria to Niger republic.

We are mobilizing $3.5 billion to $5 billion towards the development of the Liberty corridor to link Liberia and Guinea.

We have worked with partners of the Africa Investment Forum to mobilize $15.6 billion of investment commitment towards the development of the Lagos-Abidjan corridor.

Together with Africa50 we are mobilizing $630 million for the construction of the road and rail to link the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

We are financing the Guercif-Nador highway in Morocco and the 1,000-kilometer highway linking Addis Ababa to Mombasa, which has expanded trade flows between Ethiopia and Kenya by 400%.

That’s who we are: a solutions and impact-driven Bank.

The African Development Bank Group—your Bank—is in very strong financial shape. We have maintained our AAA rating—the only AAA-rated financial institution in Africa—by all the global credit rating agencies. The Bank posted very strong financial records for 2023. First, income from loans and treasury investments increased from $775 million in 2022 to $1.73 billion in 2023—an increase of 123%. Second, net income before distributions, at $545 million, is the largest ever in the history of the Bank. Third, the amount allocated to reserves ($335 million), is the highest ever in the history of the Bank.

I wish to thank the Executive Directors of the Bank, and their Advisors, as well as the Senior Management and Staff of the Bank, for their hard work and efforts.

Please join me in thanking them!

Yet, as we make these efforts, we recognize that a lot more financing is needed to accelerate Africa’s growth and development.

The call for reforms of the global financial architecture is necessary to mobilize even more financial resources to achieve Africa’s sustainable development goals. The G20 capital adequacy framework called for the multilateral development banks to optimize their balance sheets to raise more financing to support countries.

The African Development Bank headed the call. We have been at the forefront of several financial innovations to achieve this. Last month, the African Development Bank issued a hybrid capital on the global capital market, the first ever by a multilateral development bank, creating a new global asset class for investors. The $750 million hybrid capital will be leveraged 3–4 times to expand the Bank’s lending capacity.

I am delighted that two weeks ago, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund approved the use of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) as hybrid capital, which is based on the proposal developed by the African Development Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. If the approved limit of $20 billion SDRs is channeled to multilateral development banks like us, we can leverage this to deliver at least $80 billion of new financial support.

I ask for the support of all shareholders to make this a reality.

To tackle climate change, the African Development Bank is well on its way to reaching its goal of mobilizing $25 billion in climate finance, and last year we devoted 45% of our total lending to climate finance.

Our Climate Action Window approved under 16 th  replenishment of the African Development Fund (with the support of the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland) opened its first call for proposals. The response was amazing! It received over 2,000 proposals and the 359 shortlisted application requests were close to $4 billion.

The Bank is building strong and effective global partnerships to deliver more for Africa.

Through the support of the G7, we are accelerating women’s access to finance through the Affirmative Finance Action for Women (AFAWA), in partnership with the Africa Guarantee Fund, which is working with 169 financial institutions in 43 countries. AFAWA is the first ever gender focused collateralized significant risk transfer, with counter-guarantees provided by the Netherlands and France, in support of scaling up finance for women. AFAWA has so far approved $1.7 billion and financed over 18,300 women-owned businesses. By the end of this year, AFAWA would have reached $2 billion in support for up to 30,000 women-owned small and medium sized enterprises.

To support youth entrepreneurship in Africa, and to create youth-based wealth, the Bank has established Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Banks in partnership with the French Development Agency and other partners, with support from the Bank’s multi-donor Youth Entrepreneurship Trust Fund. Ever since our Board approved the first two Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Banks in Liberia with $16 million in funding, and Ethiopia with $12 million in funding, several countries, including Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Tunisia, Togo, Egypt, South Africa, Zambia and Botswana are working on submissions of requests.

The Bank is working with several partners to ramp up support for digital and creative sectors to create more jobs. Together with the Islamic Development Bank and the French Development Agency, we financed the $618 million i-DICE program (Initiative for development of digital and creative enterprises) in Nigeria that will create 6 million jobs and add $6.4 billion to the economy.

The African Development Bank, Africa50 and the African Union established the Alliance for Green Infrastructure in Africa (AGIA), which will mobilize $10 billion for green infrastructure in Africa and speed up green transitions. I am delighted that the G7 Ministerial conference in Italy, five days ago, gave global endorsement for AGIA.

Together with the Islamic Development Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development, the OPEC Fund, the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa, the Africa-Import and Export bank, and the West Africa Development Bank, we are establishing Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones in 11 African countries, including a $3 billion facility by the African Development Bank, Afreximbank and the ARISE platform.

At the Spring Meetings of the World Bank Group, President Ajay Banga and I launched a joint effort to connect 300 million people in Africa to electricity by 2030. We will jointly host an Africa Energy Summit later this year. This marks a first for both of our institutions. Not only are we reforming, but we are also changing how we work together, as a system, to deliver greater impacts at scale.

That’s because together, we can and we will achieve more!

For generations, women in Africa have borne the brunt of risks and hardships associated with cooking. nothing could be more important than ensuring 1.2 billion women across Africa have access to clean cooking solutions. No woman or child should ever die from the risks associated with smoke inhalation and other hazards. Enough is enough. It is not just about lighting a stove. It is about life, itself. It is about dignity for women. And it is about protecting the environment from massive deforestation and a reliance on biomass, fuelwood, and charcoal.

That’s why I was honored to co-Chair the Clean Cooking in Africa Summit with H.E. Samia Suluhu Hassan, President of the Republic of Tanzania, H.E. Jonas Store, Prime Minister of Norway, and Dr. Birol, the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency. The African Development Bank led the way by committing to provide $2 billion towards clean cooking solutions for women over the next ten years. I am delighted that the Summit in Paris raised an additional $2.1 billion in commitments, bringing total commitments to clean cooking to $4.1 billion—a historic achievement and a testimony to the power of partnerships.

I thank you all, our shareholders, across all our 81 member countries, for providing us the support and resources we need to serve Africa better. With your continued support, we will drive a bolder, bigger and better agenda for Africa.

I thank you, our partners, for joining your hands with ours, as we deliver more together for Africa.

I thank you, our Heads of State and Government, as you lead and show passion and commitment to the African Development Bank Group, and for your generosity towards our efforts in your countries.

I thank you our Boards of Governors, for always mobilizing support for us in your countries and for relentless efforts to back our innovations and initiatives.

I thank you, our Board of Directors for your strong oversight and support.

I thank you, my Staff and Colleagues, for being the best staff one could ever hope for.

When asked recently in an interview what I will miss the most at the end of my 10-year term next year, I did not have to think far. I said, “my staff”.

So, I’d like my staff to stand.

Guys, you are the best! (Applause!).

Together, let’s all drive Africa’s development forward, relentlessly, innovatively, and in even more impactful ways.

Let’s continue to make a difference!

And let’s continue to make Africa proud!

Thank you very much.

God bless you all.

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