New York State Representative and Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Relations Committee Gregory Meeks said the United States will only be part of the future if it invests in it. Africa right now.
Gregory Meeks was speaking during a visit to the African Development Bank Group on February 26. This visit with Congress colleagues concluded a tour of three West African countries. The President of the African Development Bank Group, Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, and several senior Bank officials welcomed the group of parliamentarians to the Bank’s headquarters in Abidjan.
“If the United States does not invest in Africa today – especially given the size of Africa’s young population, which is greater than the total population of America – we will not be part of the future,” Mr. Meeks said. “My sole objective was to ensure that Africa moved from the back to the fore,” he added. Much work remains to be done and governments alone cannot do it. The African Development Bank will play an important role. When Prosper Africa needs guidance, I will direct it to the African Development Bank. »
Meeks was joined by Representatives Ami Bera of California, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Joyce Beatty of Ohio, G. K. Butterfield of North Carolina, Brenda Lawrence of Michigan and Troy Carter of Louisiana.
They traveled to Sierra Leone and Liberia before arriving in Ivory Coast. They said they were inspired by the immense opportunities the African continent offers to American investors.
Dr. Adesina thanked the United States for its continued support, including the general capital increase of the Bank in 2019, which increased from $93 billion to $208 billion. He said the United States, the Bank’s second-largest shareholder, “is working with the right institution. “We are Africans, we understand the needs of Africa, and we are driving change in Africa,” he said.
Dr Adesina and members of Congress agreed on the need for closer cooperation between the African Development Bank and US investors. He said the Bank would open an office in Washington, D.C., once Board approval is obtained. He explained that the office would provide guidance on how to structure substantial US private sector investments in Africa. “We would like to see a lot more direct US investment in infrastructure,” Dr Adesina said. “We look forward to working with the US Trade and Development Agency and others on this topic. »
He pointed out that African economies were rebounding, but the continent was facing growing trade debt, the adverse effects of climate change, lack of opportunities for young people and limited access to Covid vaccines. -19.
The African Development Bank is leading calls for the reallocation of $100 billion in Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) from the International Monetary Fund to African countries. It advocates that these funds be channeled through the Bank, which is an approved holder of SDRs and an institution with a AAA credit rating. “SDRs offer African countries a tremendous opportunity to deal with debt,” said the Bank’s President.
He called for US support in the fight against climate change, explaining that the Bank was investing heavily in climate change adaptation and working closely with the US President’s special envoy for climate, John Kerry, and US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on climate finance.
In April 2021, the African Development Bank, in collaboration with the Global Center for Adaptation, launched the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program to mobilize $25 billion to support climate change adaptation on the African continent.
African youth figured prominently in the discussion. The delegation learned that the African Development Bank supports entrepreneurship and skills development, especially digital skills, and is working to develop investment banks for youth entrepreneurship, in support of their businesses.
On health, an equally important topic especially given the realities of the past two years, the President of the African Development Bank explained that as part of his plans for quality health care infrastructure , the institution would invest $3 billion in strengthening the pharmaceutical industries and vaccine manufacturing capacities in Africa.
Dr Adesina also spoke about the 16th replenishment of the African Development Fund, the concessional lending window of the African Development Bank Group. It promotes a reform of the Fund so that it can optimize its equity and use capital markets to support low-income African countries.
Members of the United States Congress and senior Bank officials were unanimous on the transformative role of women. Dr. Adesina said the Bank, through its Initiative to Boost Women’s Access to Finance in Africa, would release $500 million to benefit women-owned businesses on the continent.
The members of the delegation expressed their support for the priorities of the African Development Bank and marked their appreciation of its impact on development.
Representative G. K. Butterfield said that the constant talk during his visit to Africa has been: “Mr. Representative, we appreciate your help, but what we really want is trade and investment. »
Representative Ilhan Omar stressed the need for partnerships. She said: “We know that Africa is rich in resources. Resources can only be used well if they are developed. Africa needs partners to prosper. »
Representative A. Bera highlighted the need to address Africa’s governance challenges and the importance of ensuring that the continent’s resource revenues stay in African countries.
Discussions also focused on the role of the African Diaspora and the need to stem the African brain drain from the continent.
Several senior officials of the institution joined the President of the African Development Bank at this meeting, including the First Vice-President, Swazi Bajabulile Tshabalala, the Vice-President in charge of Electricity, Energy, Climate and Green Growth, Kevin Kariuki, Vice President for Agriculture and Human and Social Development, Beth Dunford, Acting Chief Economist and Vice President for Economic Governance and Management knowledge, Kevin Urama.
Other participants were the Acting Vice President for Regional Development, Integration and Service Delivery, Yacine Fal, the Acting Vice President for Finance and Chief Financial Officer, Hassatou N’Sele, and the Director Acting General of the Cabinet of the President of the Bank, Alex Mubiru.
The Bank’s Vice President for the Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization, Solomon Quaynor, and Africa Investment Forum Director, Chinelo Anohu, participated in the meeting via videoconference. The Africa Investment Forum, the leading investment platform in Africa, has recently played a key role in strengthening ties between the African Development Bank and the US investment community, as well as with certain branches of the US government linked to business, such as the United States Trade and Development Agency.
At the end of 2021, the Africa Investment Forum signed a memorandum of understanding with the United States Trade and Development Agency for financing high-quality infrastructure solutions for sub-Saharan Africa.