Akinwumi Adesina
Mr. Akinwumi Adesina

"African Development Bank looks forward to working with International Solar Alliance"


Interview with
Mr. Akinwumi Adesina
President of the African Development Bank

In a conversation with Diplomatist, President Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, highlights the significance of the High 5s, his comparative analysis of the financial situation in the African countries and how the bank is seeking inspiration from Asian countries in energy, industry and agricultural transformation policies.

What are the ‘High 5s’ of the African Development Bank?

First, I am delighted to contribute to this Special Edition of the Diplomatist Magazine, on the auspicious occasion of the COMESA Summit. This region is very important to the African Development Bank and is the largest of the eight Regional Economic Communities, bringing together 19 Member States.

The African Development Bank concentrates on raising, leveraging and crowding in financial resources according to the High 5s strategy: Light up and Power Africa; Feed Africa; Industrialise Africa; Integrate Africa; and Improve the Quality of Life for the People of Africa. I was interested to see a recent independent analysis by the United Nations Development Programme which showed that the High 5s cover 90 percent of the Sustainable Development Goals and 90 percent of the African Union’s Agenda 2063. This means that the High 5s are accelerators of Africa's economic development.

You can’t do anything in the dark. Very little business, education, healthcare or entertainment can be done without some form of power. 645 million people do not have access to electricity. This is not acceptable. The Bank has committed to invest about $12 billion between 2016 and 2020 and we expect to leverage another $45-50 billion in co-financing for energy projects in Africa during the same period. And our African sun must do more than just nourish crops; it must heat or cool our homes and help to transport our goods. We must light up and power Africa now.

With a shift in demographic trends – population growth and rapid urbanisation – the food and agribusiness industry in Africa is projected to grow to $1 trillion by 2030, with new and impatient African urban markets demanding a generous variety of high-quality food products. The African continent has plenty of land for extra production, with over 65 percent of all the uncultivated arable land left in the world. Africa will, therefore, be able to feed its own 2 billion people, as well as the other 7 billion on this planet.

And it will be keeping the added value in growing and processing its food, for we cannot keep paying $35 billion a year, expected to further rise to $110 billion a year by 2025, for the crippling luxury of importing food that we should be growing, processing, and consuming ourselves. The Bank has committed $24 billion towards agriculture and agricultural industrialisation over the next ten years to modernise African agriculture and to create quality jobs for hundreds of millions of our unemployed youth.

Africa’s youth population will climb to 840 million by 2050 and with economic development, Africa will have millions of jobs available over the next 20 years. It will be both the workshop and the foreign investment focus of the world, with a young, skilled and hard-working labour force and plenty of sites for factories and offices.

Over the next 10 years, the African Development Bank will facilitate a cumulative investment of $56 billion for six flagship industrialisation programmes. The Bank’s ambition is to help double the industrial GDP of African economies to $1.72 trillion by 2025, over 30 percent of the overall GDP.

The High 5s articulate bold ambitions for Africa that can only be achieved through partnerships involving the private sector. Only through huge and lucrative investments can Africans gain full employment, and Africa achieves economic transformation through modernisation and industrialisation.

The African Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) signed by 44 African countries is considered to be a landmark agreement. How will the African Development Bank support and promote the CFTA?

The Free Trade area will stimulate intra-African trade by up to $35 billion per year, creating a 52 percent increase in trade by 2022, and a vital $10 billion decrease in imports from outside Africa. The African food and agriculture market will hit $1 trillion by 2030. Household consumption will hit $2.1 trillion, with business-to-business expenditure at $3.5 trillion by 2025. Agriculture and industrial exports will rise to $45 billion (7%) and $21 billion (5%), respectively.

Regional integration and trade based upon the free movement of persons, goods, services, and capital have always been at the core of the business of the African Development Bank, which is accelerating the full implementation of the High 5s, in particular, ‘Integrate Africa’.

Africa has the largest concentration of landlocked countries of any region in the world – 16 out of 54. This is why transport infrastructure features so largely in the Bank’s priorities: ports, roads, railways and other connectivity projects ensure no country is left behind in our efforts to bring together our 54 markets into a mutually profitable free trade area.

In the last five years, the Bank’s commitments to infrastructure have totalled more than $12 billion, most going to cross-border transport, energy, finance, and ICT operations. We have worked closely with our partners to identify and undertake regional infrastructure projects under the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) with a $10 million grant.

To accelerate trade facilitation, the Bank has invested more than $20 million over the past five years in trade agreement support, and cross-border transport and energy soft infrastructure. It is now for Regional Economic Communities and national governments to create the critical synergies between bilateral and regional trade agreements, and the CFTA. But this is not just about tariffs or trade. Three principles must be respected for the true African dividend to yield.

The measures must be inclusive. Within Southern Africa alone, women account for 80 percent of all informal cross-border traders and generate revenues ranging from an average of $7 billion to $17.6 billion annually. Africa must be gender-sensitive in the implementation of the CFTA. The measures must be fair. Proposals to continue protection for existing regimes, products and industries must all be rejected. The CFTA must insist upon equitable market integration to realise a common, single and prosperous African market as per the Abuja Treaty. No exceptions. No special cases. Neighbours should no longer beg their neighbours.

All 54 member countries are equal owners in the pursuit of market integration on a level playing field. Africa, alone, can turn this vision into reality. It is up to us all. And no one else to bring this Agreement into force as soon as possible. We owe it to the future, to our youth, and to the overdue transformation of our continent. Let’s get there quickly!

How does the African Development Bank see Asia as a whole and India in particular as models for the development of technology in Africa?

Japan, South Korea, China, and India are very important and valued shareholders of the Bank. In addition to supporting the Bank’s statutory resources, they also have various co-financing agreements and trust funds which are leveraging and catalysing the Bank’s resources for Africa’s development. The relationship of some of the Asian countries with Africa is unique as these countries have made the successful transition from aid recipients to donor countries, which makes them cherished and influential advisors in terms of African economic transformation.

The Bank has been drawing inspiration from Asian countries in energy, industry and agricultural transformation policies. Indeed, Asian countries can play a crucial role in the transfer of skills and technological capacity.

The growth of innovations and investments are where African countries can benefit from strategic partnerships with Asia. The private sector is contributing substantially to Africa’s information technology revolution, improving its efficiency and reducing costs. While Africa is catching up quickly, public institutions are still lagging behind. Many government processes are not digital, causing massive losses in revenues and delays in the processing of business applications. Most Asian countries have prioritised human capital and education investments at all levels to sustain their development. The Asian examples demonstrate that unfavourable initial conditions are not insurmountable and, therefore, with the right policies in place, African countries can emulate their Asian peers and achieve remarkable results in human capital and skills development for their growing populations.

While nearly two-thirds of Africa’s population make a living through agriculture, the sector contributes only 16 percent to the continent’s GDP. Meanwhile, India has successfully introduced its green revolution, contract farming, drip irrigation, created new agricultural markets and brought in robotics technology and precision farming which can benefit the African continent as well.

India can play a crucial role in enhancing technology in Africa’s agriculture, through innovations in information and communication technology which would empower farmers with knowledge on agricultural technologies, best practices, markets, price trends, sources of finance and weather conditions.

Africa can also learn from the Digital Financial Inclusion achieved by India with over billion mobiles, 325 million broadband connections, and over 300 million new bank accounts. India’s experience in the renewable energy sector can also be of immense benefit to the COMESA countries in their efforts towards sustainable development and green growth.

What are the key undertakings of your recently signed joint declaration with the International Solar Alliance?

The joint declaration recognises both the critical role and the huge investment needs of solar energy for Africa’s development. The African Development Bank and the International Solar Alliance (ISA) will cooperate on the development of specific financing instruments, notably for off-grid solar projects and solar IPPs for African ISA member countries.

We also plan to work together on the mobilisation of concessional financing, including through existing trust funds, such as the Bank’s Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) which has been playing a crucial role in the preparation of renewable energy projects, and the Facility for Energy Inclusion (FEI), which intends to close funding gaps in the small-scale energy infrastructure sector and catalyse growth in last-mile energy access solutions.

The joint declaration also envisages the support of ISA for the Bank’s transformative Desert to Power initiative in the Sahel and Sahara regions, which will generate 10 GW of solar power and provide clean energy for 90 million people.

The launch of ISA this March in Delhi showed the commitment of African Heads of State and Government to the cause of solar development in Africa. The Bank looks forward to working with ISA and African countries to realise these ambitions.

How optimistic are you about the development of renewable energy in Africa?

Africa’s renewable energy resources are diverse, unevenly distributed and enormous in quantity — the solar potential is almost unlimited (10 TW) and there is abundant hydro (350 GW), wind (110 GW) and geothermal energy sources (15 GW). The African continent is endowed with more than half of the world’s renewable energy potential. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) estimates the cost-effective potential for renewable energy in Africa at 310 GW by 2030.

The falling cost of renewable energy technologies has made renewables much more competitive. The transformative power of renewable energy is already evident in a variety of countries such as Cape Verde, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco and South Africa. By 2025, further significant cost reductions are expected (60% in solar PV, 45% in CSP and on-shore wind and 35% for off-shore wind).

Investments in renewables are increasing. However, current investment levels need to be scaled up to exploit the full cost-effective potential for renewables in the continent by 2030. IRENA estimates that tapping this potential would require an annual investment of $32 billion for renewables generation capacity.

The African Development Bank is, therefore, increasing its support for energy access, working with Governments on integrated energy access plans looking at all the options: grid extension, mini-grids and solar home system solutions. We are also working on rural electrification projects and on facilitating last mile energy access. For example, Transformative Kenya – Last Mile Connectivity Project (Phase II of $154 million approved in 2016) provides 300,000 new connections and capacity building activities. In addition, the Côte d’Ivoire Power Transmission and Distribution Networks Reinforcement Project, approved in 2016, will result in 205 km of transmission lines, 2,801 km of distribution lines and 20,000 households connected in rural areas. We have three large transmission interconnection projects (Cameroon-Chad, Guinea-Mali. and Nigeria-Niger-Benin-Burkina) scheduled for Board approval in December 2017. These projects include electrification components along the transmission lines and will collectively contribute to some 436,000 new electricity connections.

On mini-grids, we have launched a market development programme, including a dedicated developer helpdesk and an Africa mini-grid strategy. On off-grid, Africa is leapfrogging towards distributed energy systems in rural areas in a similar way to Africa’s direct adoption of mobile telephony. To resolve the challenges that remain, the African Development Bank has launched the ‘Off-Grid Revolution’ to connect 75 million African households through off-grid solutions by 2025.

The Bank is supporting landmark transactions with leading off-grid companies using innovative instruments to unlock local currency capital. A first transaction for the deployment of solar home systems to reach 350,000 households in Cote d’Ivoire is currently being prepared, and other transactions are in the pipeline.

Togo is the first country to receive financing under the Off-Grid Revolution initiative. The objective is to enable the off-grid market in the country and deploy 300,000 solar home systems in rural areas within 5 years. In Burkina Faso, the Bank is working with the Agence Française de Development (AFD) to develop an ambitious solar investment programme with financing from the Green Climate Fund as part of the Desert-to-Power initiative that will combine on-grid and off-grid solutions, agricultural value chains and resilience to climate change elements that promote local development opportunities in the Sahel zone. The Bank is also supporting the training of African entrepreneurs and manufacturers to accelerate off-grid deployment at scale. For this purpose, we are launching the Access to Electricity Institute.

Lastly, the Bank recently approved a $100 million anchor investment in the $500 million Facility for Energy Inclusion to close funding gaps in the small-scale energy infrastructure sector and stimulate growth in last-mile energy access solutions.

The FEI will offer debt instruments from $2 million to $20 million, targeting project sizes of less than $30 million. It will have an off-grid window of about $100 million to provide short- and medium-term debt instruments to off-grid providers and an on-grid window of $400 million to provide project finance loans to small-scale Independent Power Producers and mini-grids.

The share of renewable energy projects of the Bank’s power generation investments jumped from 14 percent in 2007-2011 to 64 percent in 2012-2016. In 2017, 100 percent of the 1400 MW energy generation financed by the Bank was based on renewable energy sources.

Africa missed the third industrial revolution but now has a great opportunity to be at the forefront of this green (4th) revolution. This is why the African Development Bank puts such a strong focus on renewables, and why I am so optimistic about the future of renewable energy in Africa.

What role do public-private partnerships (PPPs) play in the development of large-scale projects in Africa?

Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) are increasingly seen as a logical and appropriate recourse to deal with the problem that governments alone lack the ability to finance infrastructure and other large-scale projects.

The African Development Bank is aware of the benefits of a well-managed and balanced PPP and, therefore, assists member countries as lender and advisor in supporting PPPs.

Most governments look for the key elements that enable a PPP to be successful, effective and profitable, yielding the anticipated “win-win solution” for all participants, stakeholders, and beneficiaries. In the Bank’s experience, the elements to look for are strong political support; a robust legal framework; an incentivised private sector; and end-user engagement.

PPPs essentially represent a contractual relationship between the public and private sector for the management of risks and the sharing of revenues from the provision of a service over a period of time. Governments, keen to conclude PPPs and deliver on promises and policies, sometimes take risks that they are not able to manage. The PPP Knowledge Lab, a centre established by the African Development Bank with other Multilateral Development Banks, produces guidance on PPP conditions in different sectors and on the apportionment of risks in specific deals.

The Bank’s involvement in most transactions has been key to attracting private capital and reducing transaction costs. Two examples are:

Dakar-Diamniadio Highway - Senegal: The Bank’s participation with 15 percent financing of total cost (€375 million) crowded in at least 20 percent extra equity from the private sector. The project was delivered on time and within budget and resulted in faster travel times and better access for 300,000 people to social and economic services, production centres and job opportunities.

The Henri Konan Bédié (HKB) Bridge - Cote d’Ivoire: The Bank participated with 20 percent financing of the total cost (€300 million) and crowded in at least 30 percent equity from the private sector. The bridge was built over a period of three years on time and within budget. The success of the HKB Bridge project provided a basis for other PPP investments in Africa.

What steps have been taken to help bridge the funding gap for infrastructure in Africa?

Africa’s infrastructure needs are estimated at $130-170 billion a year, leaving an annual financing gap of $68-108 billion a year. Africa, therefore, needs to look beyond aid and tap into the estimated $100 trillion managed by institutional investors and commercial banks globally. A small fraction of the excess global savings and low-yield resources would be enough to plug Africa’s financing gap and underwrite productive and profitable infrastructure. That would boost demand, create employment in rich and poor countries alike, and move the world towards peace and prosperity. In ideal political circumstances, a global pact between rich and poor nations would codify a “grand bargain” based on infrastructure financing.

African countries need to accelerate their investments in infrastructure and find new mechanisms and instruments to fund their most urgent needs. They can leapfrog directly into the global economy by building well-targeted infrastructure to support competitive industries and sectors in industrial parks and export processing zones linked to global markets.

In this context, the African Development Bank is scaling up its efforts to leverage financial resources from the private sector to help the continent meet its development needs in infrastructure.

The overall resourcing needs across the High 5s over 2016-2025 are estimated at over $1 trillion. The Bank has committed to mobilise over $269 billion during the same period. In order to finance this ambitious agenda, a greatly enhanced role for institutional investors is critical.

That is why the African Development Bank launched the African Investment Forum, a transaction driven platform that will help Africa mobilise resources from global and regional pension funds and institutional investors to close the infrastructure deficit of the continent.

The Bank is improving the access of African countries to infrastructure financing via its financial instruments and private finance catalysis, directed by its High 5 strategies. These include its Private Sector Credit Enhancement Facility (PSF) which can support up to $500m investments through Risk Participation Agreements (RPAs). There is also a $500m Private Equity Fund for the acceleration of energy access in Africa, and climate finance support to energy and climate mitigation projects.

Other instruments include bi-lateral co-financing programs and Trust Funds, for example, the Africa Growing Together Fund – an initial $2bn 10-year co-financing partnership with the People’s Republic of China, and a $3bn 3-year co-financing partnership with the Government of Japan. The Bank also offers credit enhancement/risk mitigation products for large-scale projects, such as at the Lake Turkana project in Kenya, and strategic partnerships in venture capital, the Africa CEO Forum, and the Action Plan for Agricultural Transformation.

There are already several regional initiatives aimed at improving the stock and quality of regional infrastructure and at leveraging the benefits of financial markets integration in Africa. Recent efforts also include supporting financial integration. Through the African Financial Market Initiative (AFMI), we are stimulating the development of domestic bond markets, regional stock exchanges, and regional commodity markets in the continent.

In the last five years, the Bank’s commitments to infrastructure have totalled more than $12 billion, mostly in cross-border transport, energy, finance, and ICT connectivity.

We have worked closely with our partners to identify and undertake regional infrastructure projects under the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) with a $10 million grant and to accelerate trade facilitation, the Bank has invested more than $20 million over the past five years in trade agreement support and cross-border transport and energy soft infrastructure.

The Bank financed $4.2 billion for infrastructure last year, especially in electricity and transport. To further boost support for infrastructure, the Bank helped to set up, together with African countries, the Africa 50 investment vehicle. Today, 23 African countries have invested in Africa 50 with $830 million and we expect that the fund will be finally capitalised at $1 billion.

Highlights of truly transformative projects involving the African Development Bank’s active assistance include the $245 million loan approval to the Governments of Uganda and Rwanda for the Kibuye-Busega road construction. The two landlocked countries have placed transport infrastructure as key development priorities. This multinational road project is expected to positively impact both regional trade in East Africa and road interconnections in the Great Lake regions.

For the future, the African Aviation industry needs urgent attention, with an estimated $150 billion needed to finance aircraft acquisition alone in the next 20 years. In the past decade, over $1 billion has been invested in the construction and expansion of airport terminals, as well as aviation safety and aircraft financing. For an integrated Africa, and all the benefits that this will bring, it is critical, today, to attract private sector capital in the high yield aviation sector; the Bank is determined to play a leading role to help close this financing gap.

Increasing debt in many African countries is a cause for worry. In what ways can African countries be assisted in overcoming this challenge?

African countries should be supported in three main areas; strengthening debt management capacity and governance; expanding the domestic resource base; and improving the efficiency of funds raised on domestic and international markets.

Getting accurate data on debt in a timely and transparent manner is critical in improving accountability in debt management. In some instances, debt contracting and reporting are not consolidated in a central debt management office. This makes it difficult to track the total debt. Central consolidation will reduce the risks associated with contingent liabilities.

Tax collection is low in Africa due to significant discretionary tax exemptions and rebates, weak capacity of tax administration and a high level of informality, leading to a reduced tax base.

Supporting African countries to design innovative means of taxation, and investing in improved tax administration can play an important role in boosting revenue and reducing the need for debt in financing development. This requires the strengthening of tax administration systems and the improvement of compliance.

Finally, the potential for debt in unlocking long-term growth depends on the ability of countries to improve the efficiency of debt-financed investments. This requires strengthening the absorptive capacity of African economies. Estimates suggest that about 40 percent of the potential value of public investment in low-income countries is lost to inefficiencies in the investment process due to time delays, cost overruns, and inadequate maintenance. Countries should be supported in standardising project quality rankings and implementing best practices in project and private partner evaluations before and after completion.

There is no general debt crisis across Africa, but the only thing to worry about is the ratio in some African countries between domestic debt and GDP, which needs careful attention when the debt has been used to support, for example, domestic consumption.

There needs to be greater prudence in recent debt applications to sovereign funds as the interest rate is higher than it could be, for example, than if the application was made more often to the African Development Bank. If the debt is entered into for the purpose of enhancing infrastructure then this, in my view, is “good” debt, as it can be repaid as a factor of the economic improvements that enhanced infrastructure can bring.

While Africa has enjoyed strong economic growth for almost two decades, the continent has not seen a commensurate rise in industrialisation. What would you say?

Africa has made encouraging progress over the past decade towards industrialisation but its performance remains below the minimum requirement for Africa’s structural transformation. Africa’s share of manufacturing in GDP has remained at around 10 percent over the past 10 years (2009-2018), with production typically biased towards resource-based and low technology light manufacturing, such as food and beverages, wood products, textile articles, and construction materials.

However, the potential opportunities for accelerated industrialisation are real. Africa must leverage its primary sector for resource-based industrialisation, given its huge natural resource wealth.

Increasing agricultural productivity, in particular, will be essential for the transition towards agro-industrialisation. There is also growing demand for manufactured goods in Africa thanks to an emerging middle-income class. Manufactured imports amounted to about $269 billion in 2015 and a majority of countries still import large quantities of even basic products easily made or manufactured in Africa, ranging from food to clothing to electronics.

Unfortunately, African countries are spending $35 $35 billion in foreign currency annually on food imports a figure that is set to rise to over $110 billion per year by 2030. In so doing, Africa is importing the food that it should be growing itself, and exporting the jobs it needs to keep for its unemployed youth, often to developed countries. It also has to pay inflated prices resulting from global commodity supply and currency fluctuations.

There is, therefore, considerable room to develop local production, which will not only help to create more and better jobs but also save valuable foreign exchange. With deeper regional integration, in particular, the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, domestic producers that have not yet integrated global value chains can still benefit from economies of scale necessary for the emergence of internationally competitive industries.

To further promote industrial development, African countries will need to address binding constraints related to deficits of infrastructure, lack of skilled labour, inefficient business environment and lack of finance. Special economic zones, industrial parks, and export-processing zones combined with active foreign direct investment promotion can circumvent country deficits in infrastructure and human capital, as well overcome pervasive governance problems. They can also be useful bridges to connect to global value chains.

There is also a need for urgent measures to match the continent’s growing population and youth unemployment, which they likened to a “ticking time bomb. Any efforts in this direction?

African countries need to harness the brain power of Africa’s young, dynamic population to spur a technological revolution, economic transformation, and competitiveness of the continent for shared prosperity. Between 2017 and 2050, 2.2 billion more people will be born globally - and more than half of them will be in Africa.

The African Development Bank is doing a lot to support young people across the continent to achieve their dreams and create the next generation of full employed working people, not to mention, a selection of young and enterprising billionaires.

This is why the Bank launched the “Jobs for Youths in Africa” Initiative last year, our flagship program aimed at addressing youth unemployment in Africa. Its goal is to stimulate the creation of 25 million jobs over the next 10 years. Through this initiative, we will help to mobilise $3 billion in support of young entrepreneurs in Africa, with a focus on business incubation. The initiative will help to create skills enhancement zones to foster strong links between skills, jobs and industrial development.

Having been inspired by the success of the IITA Young Agripreneurs (IYA) Programme, the African Development Bank also launched a flagship program to build entrepreneurship in the agriculture sector, the “Empowering Novel Agri-Business-Led Initiative (ENABLE) Youth” initiative.

The goal is to support the creation of profitable and vibrant agribusinesses by young graduates between the ages of 18 and 35. Over the next five years, ENABLE Youth seeks to empower 10,000 agripreneurs in 30 countries, thereby creating 300,000 enterprises and 1.5 million jobs. African countries have shown great interest in the ENABLE Youth initiative and over 30 countries have expressed interest in the program. To date, the Bank has also approved ENABLE Youth projects in ten countries for a total amount of over $800 million.

We are aware that finance is vital for Africa’s long-term agricultural and agribusiness transformation. This is why the African Development Bank places significant emphasis on developing affordable sources of financing for start-ups by young African entrepreneurs through a number of vehicles such as the Agriculture Fast Track Fund (AFT), the Fund for African Private Sector Assistance (FAPA) and the Boost Africa program.

The African Development Bank recognises that Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) are powerful levers for change and it is looking forward to strengthening partnerships with the private sector to support the education and skills agenda. For example, in Nigeria, the African Development Bank administered a $40 million non-sovereign loan to Afe Babalola University in 2016 to finance an industrial research park, a post-graduate school, a central library, a 400-bed teaching hospital, student hostels, and a small-scale hydropower installation.

In order to advance Information Communication and Technology (ICT) solutions to find solutions to Africa’s development challenges and to strengthen industrialisation, the African Development Bank has launched the first phase of its Coding for Employment Flagship initiative which will establish 20 Coding Centres of Excellence in five countries (Nigeria, Rwanda, Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal).

The African Development Bank is also working with Microsoft and Facebook to support universities to develop an ICT curriculum and training program that matches graduates directly with ICT employers and nurtures digital skills. Up to twenty universities will benefit from this intervention over the coming two years.

By 2025, the African Development Bank aims to support countries to establish a total of 130 ICT Centres of Excellence and train 16 million youth in computational thinking across Africa.

Since 2016, the African Development Bank has invested more than $200 million in technology parks in Ethiopia, Cape Verde, and Senegal. In 2017, the Bank supported the establishment of a Rwanda Innovation Fund to promote the innovation economy in Rwanda and the East African Community (EAC) region. The fund is an investment vehicle focused on funding tech-enabled SMEs and to develop entrepreneurial/innovation ecosystem capacity.

These and other measures will address the “ticking time bomb.” The solution is in our hands. Africa cannot afford ‘triangles of disaster’, in which unemployment, poverty, and environmental degradation compete with each other in a deadly race to dereliction. The victims of such triangles of disaster are, overwhelmingly, Africa’s youth. That is to say, Africa’s future.

That’s why Africa wants its young people to stay and become part of a successful Africa, and not risk their lives as recruits to extremist terror groups or on the Mediterranean on an unsafe journey towards an uncertain future in a new land.

The African Development Bank is doing a lot to support young people across the continent to achieve their dreams and create the next generation of full employed working people, not to mention, a selection of young and enterprising billionaires.

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