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Africa Development Bank – US government strengthens strategic partnership

By AFDB

AFRICA / USA – Dr Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank Group, has praised US president Joe Biden’s administration for its approach towards Africa particularly its emphasis on the development of quality infrastructure, which he described as the “backbone of every economy.”

Dr Adesina was speaking on Tuesday when he received a delegation from the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) led by director Enoh Ebong, at the bank’s headquarters in the Cote D’Ivoire’s commercial capital, Abidjan, said:

“I commend president Biden for what he has done with the PGII (Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment) which he announced during the US Africa summit in 2022.”

The PGII initiative sees the US investing over $1.5 billion in various African projects, including digital access, agriculture, clean energy infrastructure, and the Lobito corridor for transportation corridor linking Zambia, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Dr Adesina said the bank enjoys a close working relationship with the US government and its various agencies including USTDA, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Export-Import Bank of the US (US Exim), Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and Power Africa, among others.

USTDA director Ebong said the purpose of their trip to Cote D’Ivoire was “to cement and keep the partnership growing, resetting and restating US approach to working with Africa and its centrality as an active participant in dealing with all challenges we are facing globally such as climate change and infrastructure development and conflicts.

“Climate change cannot be talked about without the continent’s views and voice” and said the Biden administration appreciated the need to engage “with the bank to help inform its work in Africa.”   

Ebong reiterated the agency’s close working relationship with the Africa Investment Forum (AIF) – established in 2018 by the African Development Bank and seven partner institutions – to accelerate transactions and attract investors to close investment gaps to Africa.

Through its collaboration with AIF, the US Trade and Development Agency is financing the expansion of Nigeria’s MobiHealth telemedicine project to other countries including Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, and Senegal. MobiHealth was presented at the 2022 virtual boardrooms event of the Africa Investment Forum.

Dr Adesina highlighted other areas in the health sector where the bank could work closely with USTDA. They include investing in improving access and quality of primary healthcare through standardisation and digitisation of healthcare systems and providing health insurance services in rural areas.

Dr Adesina detailed the work the bank is doing to assure the health security of the continent’s 1.4 billion people following the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition to a $3 billion programme on quality health infrastructure, the bank also launched another $3 billion programme over the next seven years to build Africa’s pharmaceutical industry.

In June 2022, the bank launched the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation to boost the continent’s access to technology in manufacturing medicines, vaccines and other pharmaceutical products.

On infrastructure, Dr Adesina said in addition to the Zambia-Lobito corridor, others presented enormous investment opportunities for the US such as the $15.6 billion one from Abidjan to Lagos. The bank’s president proposed that there should be a dedicated session on corridors at the next Africa Investment Forum Market Days, and spoke about the work done by the Alliance for Green Infrastructure in Africa (AGIA) to mobilise $10 billion for green infrastructure and Africa50 which is mobilising $1 billion for project preparation.

Regarding investment in women, Adesina said the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) was set up by the African Development Bank Group to bridge the $42 billion gap in access to finance for women businesses in Africa, promote gender-inclusive financing and fully unlock women’s entrepreneurial potential. By the end of 2023, more than $1.2 billion was approved for disbursement to women’s businesses.

The African Development Bank has also established Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Banks to provide financial and technical support to businesses run by young Africans.

The bank group president spoke about the bank’s ongoing collaboration with other development partners to create Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones to boost food and agricultural production and have the potential to transform life in rural Africa. To date, the bank is supporting up to 25 such zones in 11 countries.

Included in the bank team meeting with the US delegation were vice president for private sector, infrastructure and industrialisation Solomon Quaynor, and from the bank group president’s cabinet, director general and chief of staff Alex Mubiru, director and senior advisor Gauthier Bourlard and the director of strategy and delivery Josiah Maximilian Bankole Jarrett.

Ebong and her delegation took part in a two-day workshop with senior management from the African Development Bank to explore innovative financial investment opportunities, particularly in the green growth sector, accompanied by the agency’s chief of staff Heather Lanigan, the regional manager for finance and implementation Sarah Whitten, the bank’s US executive director Alex Severens, advisor Anush Avetisyan and trade officer at the US embassy in Abidjan Ashley Ndir.

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