“Today, a rainbow stretches from the 81 member countries of the African Development Bank across the deep blue skies of Africa…The future beckons us for a more developed Africa and a much stronger and resilient African Development Bank,” President of the African Development Bank Group, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, said after he was formally sworn into office for a second term on Tuesday.
The swearing-in ceremony, which took place at the Bank’s Abidjan headquarters, was presided over by newly-appointed Chair of the Board of Governors, Ghanaian Finance Minister Kenneth Ofori-Atta, who administered the Oath Office.
Ofori-Atta was assisted by the past Board of Governors Chair, Ivorian Planning Minister Niale Kaba, and the Bank’s Secretary General, Vincent Nmehielle, who read the resolution of the Board confirming Adesina’s election.
In his inaugural address, Adesina, who was re-elected unanimously by the bank’s Board of Governors on 27 August to serve a second five-year term, promised to provide more support to ensure that the continent’s infrastructure gap is reduced.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything globally; it has thrown Africa’s growth back. The continent has lost gains and economic growth that were achieved over the last decade,” Adesina said.
“Africa’s recovery will therefore be long and challenging. Now we must help Africa build back boldly but smartly, paying greater attention to quality growth, especially in the areas of health, climate and the environment.
“As we look into the future, working with the Board of Directors, the bank’s work will focus on economic infrastructure, quality physical infrastructure in health,” he added.
“Covid-19 also opens up new opportunities and a greater sense of urgency to build Africa’s manufacturing capacity, industrial development, and critically-needed industrial value-chains that must be supported by enabling infrastructure and policies,” Dr Adesina stated.
“Special attention will be given to regional industrial value chains and strengthening of financial markets in order to expand the intraregional trade and competitiveness and to boost Africa Continental Free Trade Area.”
He maintained that the continent still faces a lot of challenges and it is crucial that all the necessary support is received to bridge the gaps caused by the challenges.
“Your Excellency, let there be no doubt the challenges ahead are still many including poverty, inequality, fragility, high youth unemployment, significant infrastructure financing gaps, and sustainable debt management.
“As we look into the future, let me assure you, the bank will play a greater role in policy dialogue with countries. We will support sustainable debt management, boost green growth and accelerate the provision of jobs for youth on our beloved continent,” he stressed.
Adesina’s first five-year term in office focused on the bold new agenda for the AfDB based on five development priorities known as the High 5s: Light up and Power Africa; Feed Africa; Industrialise Africa; Integrate Africa; and Improve the Quality of Life for the People of Africa.
Today, that ambition was being achieved, Adesina stated, adding that 18 million Africans had gained access to electricity, 15 million had benefited from investor finance, 60 million enjoyed new access to water, 141 million people had improved agricultural technologies for food and 101 million people had access to improved transport from infrastructure.
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“We have collectively charted a new path for Africa…We have achieved collectively impressive results,” Adesina said.
Going forward in his new term, he would focus on building on the collective achievements and a stronger and more resilient African Bank Group. “Our focus will be on institutions, people, delivery and sustainability. Together we win for Africa,” Adesina said.
“Yet again, let us move forward, driven by the power of our mission, inspired by the primacy of our vision and emboldened by the strength of our togetherness,” Adesina said.
Ofori-Atta said he had no doubt that Africa’s premier development bank had secured the right leadership.
“We need to continue to steer and direct the Bank’s efforts to setting global standards of excellence, integrity, commitment to service and responsiveness to the challenges of the continent,” he said.
“You earned a new mandate in a most historic fashion,” he told Adesina.
Several presidents attended the virtual ceremony live and sent messages of support. They included Paul Kagame of Rwanda, the president of Liberia, George Weah, Alpha Conde of Guinea, Guinea Bissau President Umaro Sissoco Embaló and Denis Sassou Nguesso of Republic of the Congo. Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and Vice President Atiku Abubakar were also present.