• Over 30 million jobs lost to Covid pandemic • Over 26 million people fell into extreme poverty in Africa

‘Seun Ibukun-Oni, Abuja

Daily Courier – President, African Development Bank Group (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, has charged African Presidents to to fix the infrastructure financing gap which stood at $414bn annually to defeat poverty on the continent.

Adesina stated this in his speech titled, ‘Mobilizing Financing for Africa’s Accelerated Economic Recovery, Development and Integration’ at the 25th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

According to him, the Covid-19 pandemic has been a global economic cyclone that led to a decline in GDP growth of 2.1% in 2020, its lowest in twenty years. Africa’s GDP fell by $165 billion.

Adesina said over 30 million jobs were lost and over 26 million people fell into extreme poverty.

He commended the leadership efforts of the African Union, and Heads of State and Government, for the critical roles they have played in dealing with the pandemic and the socio-economic challenges in its wake.

He said “today, thanks to these efforts 11% of the population has been fully vaccinated, and another 16% has been partially vaccinated.

“However, while developed countries have moved to booster shots, Africa is still struggling with basic shots.

Your Excellencies, we must learn from this experience. Africa can no longer outsource the security of the lives of its 1.4 billion people to the benevolence of others.

“We must secure African lives!

“It is time your Excellencies, to build Africa’s healthcare defense system,” he said.

He said this must be based on three strategic priorities.

Adesina said to eliminate extreme poverty by 2030, the continent will need $414 – $784 billion per year.

“First, building Africa’s quality healthcare infrastructure.

Second, building Africa’s pharmaceutical industry and

Third, building Africa’s vaccine manufacturing capacity.

“Africa needs $600 million to $1.3 billion to meet its goal of attaining 60% vaccine production by 2040. Investing in health is investing in national security.

“The African Development Bank plans to invest $3 billion to support pharmaceutical and vaccines manufacturing capacity for Africa.

“To address the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic and support economic recovery, Africa will need some $484 billion over the next 3 years.

“To eliminate extreme poverty by 2030, the continent will need $414 – $784 billion per year. Africa will need $7-$15 billion a year to deal with climate change.

“The continent will also need between $68 – $108 billion per year to fix the infrastructure financing gap.

Your Excellencies, we must drastically mobilize a lot more resources!

He said the African Development Bank, as the premier development financing institution in Africa, has been mobilizing resources to meet this challenge.

According to him” thanks to your support, the general capital of the Bank was increased in 2019 by 125%, rising from $93 billion to $208 billion, the highest since its establishment in 1964.

“These resources have allowed the African Development Bank to scale up support to African economies to tackle the pandemic.

“The Board of Directors of the Bank approved a Crisis Response Facility of up to $10 Billion. The Bank also launched a $3 Billion Fight COVID-19, Social Bond, on the international capital markets, which was the largest ever US-dollar denominated social bond in world history.

The Bank provided $ 27 million as grants to the African Centers for Disease Control.

He said the Bank is also implementing a $20 billion Desert-to-Power initiative to develop 10,000 MW of solar power for the Sahelian zone of Africa, to provide electricity for 250 million people. This will become the largest solar zone in the world.

“Africa faces a huge challenge with the energy transition, and with climate change. The Bank is working to establish an African Just Energy Transition Facility that will support the transition from coal and heavy fuel oil into clean energy.

“However, Africa will need an energy mix that includes natural gas, to ensure the stability of its energy systems, power industries, and ensure competitiveness.

Your Excellencies, we must go beyond “a just energy transition” to “a just energy system.”Africa cannot be poor in an environmentally sustainable manner,” he added.

To support Africa’s adaption to climate change, Adesina said the African Development Bank and the Global Centre for Adaptation have launched the African Adaptation Acceleration Program (AAA-P) with the goal of mobilizing $25 billion for climate adaptation for Africa.

“We must revive the Lake Chad Basin! We must save the Sahel from desertification! We must complete the Great Green Wall!

“The African Development Bank has committed $6.5 billion towards the Great Green Wall,” he added.