A leading contender for president of the African Development Bank wants to see a strong regionally integrated Africa with increasing growth that is globally competitive.
In an interview with VOA, Nigeria’s Agricultural Minister Akinwumi Adesina says his many years of work in Francophone and Anglophone countries, coupled with his passion to help eradicate poverty in Africa, qualifies him to become the next president of the African Development Bank.
He praised Donald Kaberuka, the outgoing president of the bank for his work over the years.
Adesina, however, says there are worrying trends that he will address if elected, including joblessness and inequality among Africa’s youth.
“First is to focus on smart infrastructure to allow increased productivity and efficiency in growth, to work on the private sector- private sector for wealth creation. The third is jobs for Africa’s youth and jobs for Africa’s women. The fourth area I am going put a lot of emphasis on is reviving rural economies to create shared prosperity and inclusive growth of the continent and finally,… regional integration and prosperity,” said Adesina.
Some Africans have been skeptical about the political will among the leaders on the continent to ensure integration, which they say undermines the effectiveness of the African Development Bank to achieve its objectives.
But Adesina says there is political will among heads of state and government towards integration.
“Africa has no choice than to integrate because if you look at the size of our every single country is a very small market. But we can trade a lot more among ourselves. The amount of trade among African countries is very low, is 12 percent compared to over 48 percent in Asia and compared to about almost 47 percent in the North America free trade area and almost 70 percent in Europe,” said Adesina.
Twenty-nine African countries have been listed as fragile states, which directly impacts the work of the African Development Bank.
Adesina says inclusive democracy could play a key role in ensuring peace and stability in African countries. He cited Nigeria’s peaceful presidential election, where incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan lost as an example of how Africa could resolve instability and ensure peace.
“The transition going on in Nigeria is totally smooth and that tells you that Nigeria’s democracy is matured and we need that all across Africa,” said Adesina.
“I feel that we need to address the sources of fragility to build institutions, to create jobs to build resilience in our economies, and to make sure that our natural resources, which creates a lot of instability and fragility are managed transparently,” he added.