The President of the African Development Bank Group, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, has recently reinforced the strong and continued support for the institution and its development initiatives from one of the non-regional member countries of the group, the Sweden.
The bank’s chief paid a two-day official visit to Sweden – a member of his influential Nordic constituency – at the end of September. He met with various senior officials, including Jenny Ohlsson, Secretary of State and Bank Governor for Sweden; Helen Eduards, Director General for International Development Cooperation at the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Carin Jämtin, Director General of the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA); and Pernilla Meyersson from the Swedish Central Bank.
There was broad agreement that the African Development Bank – through its High-5 priorities – and the Swedish government – through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Sida objectives – shared common strategic priorities. , including: sustainable development, climate change, food security, the promotion of a productive private sector and the importance of education and gender equality.
Adesina spoke about the strategic initiatives launched by the bank to promote gender equality and access to finance for women entrepreneurs. He highlighted the bank’s Affirmative Financial Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) program as one of the platforms through which it does so.
He explained that the African Development Bank monitors and tracks the gender impact of every banking investment through a gender marker system.
The bank’s focus on providing more opportunities for young people was also highlighted. Adesina said the institution promotes jobs for young people through its Youth Entrepreneurship and Innovation Trust Fund. He said he had proposed a new network of investment banks for youth entrepreneurship, which would soon be presented to his board for approval, and which could be launched before the end of this year.
Adesina said the African Development Bank – together with the International Labor Organization – was designing a tracking and monitoring system that would identify the impact of all the bank’s operations on job creation. .
There was general agreement on the need for continued cooperation in promoting renewable energy, which accounts for 83% of the bank’s current energy portfolio – primarily through the Desert to Power, which the African Development Bank is financing in the Sahel region of Africa. Sweden expressed support for the Climate Action Window that the African Development Bank will create to help low-income African countries access additional resources. These are resources that will help these countries cope with the impact of climate change and invest in climate adaptation.
There was agreement on the need to stimulate private investment into Africa, an objective to which SIDA wishes to contribute by offering risk reduction instruments such as guarantees.
Adesina confirmed that building climate-resilient agriculture would be an activity with great potential for development and business opportunities. He said the bank promotes this through two key programs: its Technologies for African Agriculture Transformation (TAAT) and its Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones.
The head of the African Development Bank said the bank’s Africa Investment Forum, scheduled for early November, would be an ideal platform to promote private investment in Africa. He urged Swedish companies and institutional investors to seriously consider participating in the next meeting rooms of the forum which are to take place in early November in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
Sida and the African Development Bank have agreed to work to mobilize the interest of Swedish institutional investors in the projects through a possible dedicated session of the Africa Investment Forum.
Sweden supported the speed with which the African Development Bank responded to the Covid-19 pandemic with its (bank’s) Covid-19 Response Facility and to a possible food crisis with its African Food Production Facility. emergency.
During his meeting with IKEA CEO Per Heggenes, Adesina invited IKEA to join the TAAT platform and participate in various other banking initiatives aimed at fostering sustainable development in Africa.
Heggenes said that while IKEA’s resources were modest, he hailed the African Development Bank director’s plans to address Africa’s development challenges with far-reaching initiatives. He said IKEA contributed to the climate and planet fund with the Rockefeller Foundation.
He said it was important to focus on things that could bring demonstrable change, including support for small-scale energy projects, with a pragmatic approach to gas. He said it was important to create entrepreneurial jobs, especially in order to solve the problem of migration.
It was agreed that the bank and IKEA would explore ways to work together.