Akinwunmi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), has called for more transparency, accountability and efficiency in the management of public infrastructure financing in Africa while discouraging countries from using their natural resources to back up infrastructure loans.
Adesina, who made the call Thursday at the ongoing African Investment Forum, with the theme: ‘Economic Resilience Through Sustainable Investments’ at Abidjan, Cote D’ Ivoire, expressed concern that rising public debts due to unsustainable public infrastructure financing plans would mortgage the future of countries that make such mistake.
“All public infrastructure financing should be transparent, and competitive pricing should be done in such a way that it gives value for money to those countries. There must be transparency and efficiency in the use of public resources for infrastructure,” he said.
He noted that public financial efficiency and financing were important, adding that the focus should not be on financial commitments deployed into infrastructure, but on the efficiency of the expenditure.
The AFDB president further explained that the bank and its partners have embarked on three major areas of priority which he said would promote the economic transformation of the continent. These are Agriculture, promotion of Electric car manufacturing and Renewable energy.
Adesina disclosed that in the area of agriculture, the bank would work collectively with its partners to support the various Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones (SAPZs) across Africa, adding that they are doing a lot in that regards.
According to him, “We want to turn around agriculture into a wealth sector. We will change the face of rural agriculture and we have committed ourselves to that.
“We will put our technical resources together to make electric cars in Africa a reality.”
On renewable energy, he said that the bank and its partners would be making $20 billion dollar investments to generate 10,000 megawatts of solar power across 11 countries that would provide electricity for 250 million people in Africa.
Earlier in his remarks, Benedict Oramah, president and chairman of Board of Directors, African Export-Import Bank, (Afrexim), said the recurrent global shocks, currently unleashed by the lingering effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the ongoing Ukraine crisis and the intensification of geo-political tensions are reshaping the world in a way not previously imagined.
He also said that although shocks have adverse ramifications for African economies, “they can also serve as a springboard and present enormous opportunities for Africa to rethink, reimagine and re-write their stories in a positive manner that would endure.”
Oramah, who spoke on the theme: ‘Trade and Investment – How can Africa be More Competitive in a Global Context’ said that at the height of the pandemic downturn in 2020, the continent’s average Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contracted by only 1.6 percent against world average of 3.3 percent, with several of its economies recording positive growth.
He further explained that notwithstanding the observed resilience and robustness of its economies, it is sad to note that over 56 percent of African countries rated by at least one of the major global rating agencies, were downgraded, compared to 9.2 percent in Europe and 28 percent in Asia.
The Afrexim Bank president remarked that the effect of the inexplicable mass downgrade was to precipitate far-reaching economic crises as African bond prices crashed and made it difficult for most, if not all, to access the international debt capital markets, pointing out that most ended up at the doors of International Monetary Fund (IMF), with their heads bowed and unsure of how to manage mass anger at home.