A CASE FOR CONTINUITY AT AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT BANK

By Wole Olaoye

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The coast is now clear for the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina to seek re-election for a second term after an Independent Review Panel exonerated him of any ethical wrongdoing.

Some whistleblowers had raised issues of poor governance, impunity, personal enrichment and favouritism at the bank under Adesina’s watch. He had denied the accusations after which the bank’s ethics board investigated the accusations.

A report by the bank’s ethics board in April 2020 cleared Adesina of all malfeasance but the United States, the second largest shareholder rejected the report, opposed Adesina’s nomination and demanded for an independent panel to review the case.

The Independent Review Panel headed by the former Irish President, Mary Robinson was therefore instituted and given the responsibility to review the processes by which two previous organs of the bank: the ethics committee and the Bureau of the Board of Governors had exonerated Adesina.

On Monday July 27, 2020 the review panel came up with its report which backed the earlier reports of the AfDB probes that found no evidence of wrongdoing against its President, Adesina. The panel said it was “satisfied” with the ethics committee’s findings.

The report of the review panel now paves the way for the 60-year old Adesina, to seek re-election as President of Africa’s biggest multilateral lender for another five years. The AfDB is expected to elect a new President during its annual meetings scheduled to hold from August 25th to 27th, 2020 with Nigeria’s Akinwumi Adesina as sole candidate.

Akinwumi Adesina, a charismatic speaker known for his elegant suits and bow ties, became the first Nigerian to helm the AfDB in 2015.

He is a highly decorated and distinguished technocrat and globally-respected development economist. He was awarded the prestigious World Food Prize in 2017 and the Sunhak Peace Prize in 2019 for global leadership in agriculture for good governance.

The African Development Bank Group was established in 1964 as a post-colonial multilateral development finance institution to fight poverty and improve living conditions on the continent of Africa through making loans and equity investments available to Regional Member Countries (RMCs).

The AfDB assists in conceiving, organizing and implementing development policies for RMCs. Most significantly, the Bank pays crucial attention to national and multinational projects which have the potential to promote regional integration.

Although Nigeria is the largest shareholder of the AfDB with 9.1 per cent shares, a Nigerian was only elected as its president in 2015 when Dr. Adesina, a former Minister of Agriculture was elected in May and inaugurated on September first of that year as the Bank’s eighth president for an initial five-year term.

An Agricultural Economist with remarkable distinctions in academics, development financing and administration, Adesina was named Forbes African Man of the Year in 2013 for his ambitious reforms in the Nigerian agricultural sector.

One of his first steps at AfDB was to set up a broad pan-African strategic development plan embedded in his High Five roadmap, which emphasizes investment and intervention in key sectors capable of catalyzing growth and development on the continent.

The High Five-point agenda of Adesina’s presidency at the AfDB which is being prosecuted with remarkable success is designed to feed Africa, light up Africa, industrialize Africa, integrate Africa and improve the quality of life in Africa.

For instance, under the Light Up Africa project, the AfDB has a 10-year plan to drastically reduce the number of Africans who lack access to electricity. Currently, 645 million people lack access to electricity in Africa and so far, 18 million people have been provided with electricity in Morocco, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Egypt and other parts of the African continent.

Towards integrating and improving the quality of life in Africa, the Bank, in the last five years, has provided access to better transportation in Ghana, Nigeria, Morocco and elsewhere, of which over 100 million people have benefited.

In agriculture, more than 140 million people have gained access to improved agricultural technology under the Feed Africa project. Specifically, the Green Morocco, Indorama, Nigeria and Mauritius Water Project is changing the way the continent is going about its most critical sector.

Also, over 60 million people have benefitted from improved access to water and sanitation. Under Adesina’s leadership, the African Development Bank is changing the face of Africa, one project at a time.

Within the past five years, Adesina has reduced, by 44 per cent, the time between project approval and the disbursement of the first tranche of funding. Foreign Direct Investments (FDI), which stood at $10bn in 2010, increased to $50bn in 2019 and it is projected to hit $2.5tn in 2030. Also in November 2019, the Bank announced a record capital increase from $93bn to $208bn, the largest leap in its entire history.

With such unprecedented successes recorded by the AfDB under its current president, the African Union has rightly adopted Adesina as its sole candidate in the forthcoming election. After all, as the saying goes in Nigeria, one good term deserves another.

Mr. Wole Olaoye is a veteran newspaper columnist and Fellow of the African Public Relations Association.

Peace PIAK

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