For the Records: Akinwumi Adesina’s Inaugural Address as the President of AfDB


September 1, 2020


● Your Excellency, President Alassane Ouattara, President of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire
● Your Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
● Your Excellencies, Heads of State and Governments
● Excellencies former Heads of State and Governments
● Chairperson of the African Union Commission
● The Former Commonwealth Secretary General
● Honorable Niale Kaba, the outgoing Chairperson of the Bureau of Governors of the African Development Bank Group and Minister of National Planning of Côte d’Ivoire— Madam “Quiet Force” or “Force tranquille”
● The new Chairperson of the Bureau of the Board of Governors, Honorable Ken Ofori Ata, Minister of Finance of Ghana
● Governors of the African Development Bank, from 81 capitals around the world
● Members of the Board of Directors of the African Development Bank
● Honorable Ministers, Heads of Regional Economic Communities
● Excellencies, Executive Governors of States from Nigeria
● Heads of diplomatic institutions
● Members of staff of the African Development Bank
● My friends and family members,
● My darling wife, Grace — my rock, my helper, my counselor, my sweetheart and my children, Rotimi and Segun, Alex, Emily, and our granddaughters, Noemi, and Audra … who was born just 2 days ago!
● Distinguished ladies and gentlemen
I thank God Almighty for making me able to stand before you today. I give God all the glory for all He has done and continues to do in my life – a life which I have dedicated to Him for selfless service to humanity. And above all, I am grateful for the opportunity to serve Africa passionately, to the very best of my God-given ability.

I stand before you today to speak, but I speak for two people: myself and my darling wife, Grace. For without Grace (Yemisi) I will not be here today. I love you honey — thank you for always standing with me, with prayers, and encouragement. I love you!

● I would definitely not be here without the extraordinary support of my country, Nigeria, and my President H.E. Muhammadu Buhari.

● Mr. President, you nominated me, you stood by me, you supported me. Thank you very much Sir.

● I am grateful to the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the entire Government and people of Nigeria who supported me.

● I would not be here without the strong support of the African Union.

● I would not be here without the strong support of all African Heads of State and governments, starting with my host President – H.E. President Alassane Ouattara.

● I would not be here without the strong support of Africa’s retired heads of state and government, led by H.E. President Olusegun Obasanjo.

● I would not be here without the youth of Africa, the elders of Africa, the women of Africa and the prayers of Africa.

● I would not be here without the incredible decision of all my governors, shareholders of the Bank, from 81 countries around the world, for getting me here. I stand on their collective pedestal.

I stand tall today because of you all … your support, prayers, and good wishes inspired us.

We are grateful to you all. Thank you all very much!

Your Excellencies,

Four days ago, on August 27, 2020, I was re-elected as President of the African Development Bank Group. I wish to thank you all for your incredible support and for the mark of confidence you all collectively placed in me. You elected me with 100% of all the votes of regional and non-regional shareholders of the Bank — without any exception. This is unparalleled in the Bank’s 56-year history. And for this, I am exceedingly grateful.

What honor. What confidence. And what affirmation!

You our shareholders have showcased the African Development Bank’s exceptionally high standards and its commitment to transparency and good corporate governance. I am deeply grateful for your collective trust, confidence and support. Above all, I am greatly honored — and humbled.

Your Excellencies,

Today, a rainbow stretches from the 81 member countries of the African Development Bank across the deep blue skies of Africa, with one message — the rain is gone. Gone are the dark clouds that held us down.

I stand today, with all humility, as the President elected by all.

I will be the President for all.

Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Over the past five years, since you first elected me as President, we have collectively charted a new way forward for Africa; one that has given stronger hope for the continent’s development.

The High5s of the Bank (Light up and Power Africa; Feed Africa; Industrialize Africa; Integrate Africa; and Improve the Quality of Life of the people of Africa) which were developed to accelerate the delivery of the Ten-Year Strategy, have been implemented with deliberateness, speed and rigor.

The High5s have taken hold on the continent and become the keys for accelerating Africa’s development. The UNDP has shown that achieving the High5s would lead to achievement of 90% of the SDGs and the Agenda 2063 of the African Union.

Your Excellencies,

Over the past five years, the Bank has delivered impressive results on these High 5s:
● 18 million people with access to electricity
● 141 million people had access to improved agricultural technologies for food security
● 15 million people with access to finance from private investments
● 101 million people with access to improved transport from infrastructure
● 60 million people with access to water and sanitation
We’ve achieved impressive results. The Bank’s High5 programmes have impacted 335 million people. That’s what the African Development Bank – your Bank – is all about … ‘people impact’.

Our non-sovereign operations for the private sector increased 40% from $1.5 billion in 2015 to $ 2.1 billion in 2019, with the highest level of $ 2.5 billion achieved in 2016.

We have been accountable for the climate since COP 21 in Paris. The Bank’s climate financing expanded from 9% when you elected me in 2015 to 36 % by 2019 – an increase of 400%. We’ve now targeted to reach $25 billion in climate finance by 2021.

Through the innovative and groundbreaking Africa Investment Forum in 2018 and 2019, we were able to attract a combined $78.8 billion worth of investment interests into Africa

In every country, the Bank’s impacts are felt. We expanded our presence to 44 countries, including across fragile states. Our staff risk their lives to deliver.

And we are delivering more for women with the implementation of the Affirmative Finance Action for Women (AFAWA), to leverage $3 billion for women and women businesses.

We have launched a Gender Equality Trust Fund, the first ever in the Bank, and are advancing on gender markers for all projects of the Bank. We must continue to strongly support women. When women win, Africa wins!

Your Excellencies, Governors,

Winning for Africa’s development is what you set us up to do!

You the shareholders supported the historic General Capital Increase of the Bank, raising the capital of the Bank from $93 billion to $208 billion. This represents an increase of $115 billion, the highest in the history of the Bank.

As shareholders, you strongly supported a 32% increase in resources for the African Development Fund (ADF) 15th replenishment, to support low income countries and fragile states. Today, the ADF countries receive 700% larger resources than they did in 2015.

Your Excellencies,

We’ve delivering value for money for our shareholders. The Bank has the lowest cost among all multilateral development banks.

● The African Development Fund has also been rated as the 2nd best managed concessional financing institution globally.

● Over the past five years we have maintained our AAA rating by all three major rating agencies — thanks to your continued extraordinary support as shareholders.

● The Multilateral Organization Performance Assessment Network, otherwise known as MOPAN, ranked the African Development Bank as number one along with the World Bank.

● Publish What You Fund ranked the Bank as the fourth most transparent globally.

● In terms of organizations that people wish to work for in Africa, the Bank’s position as an employer of choice increased from number 82 out of 100 top companies in 2015, to number 4 in 2018 and number 3 in 2019.

Your Excellencies,

We are also a very responsive Bank.

● As COVID-19 shocks began, the Bank’s Board of Directors approved a $10 billion COVID-19 response facility to address immediate and project investments for countries, especially to contain fiscal meltdowns.

● We launched a $3 billion social bond on the global market – the largest US dollar denominated social bond ever in world history.
These actions reflect our ambitions, our unshaken commitment and unyielding responsibility to support, stabilize and strengthen African economies.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything globally. It has thrown Africa’s growth back. The continent has lost gains and economic growth that were achieved over the last decade. Africa’s recovery will therefore be long and challenging.

Now, we must help Africa build back boldly, but smartly, paying greater attention to quality growth: especially in the areas of health, climate and the environment.

As we look to the future, working with the Board of Directors, the Bank will pay increased attention to supporting Africa with quality health care infrastructure, and building on its comparative advantage in infrastructure.

The Bank’s infrastructure work will focus on economic infrastructure, quality physical infrastructure and quality health infrastructure.

COVID-19 opens up new opportunities and a greater sense of urgency to build up Africa’s manufacturing capacity, industrial development, and critically needed industrial value chains, that must be supported by enabling infrastructure and policies.

Special attention will be given to regional industrial value chains and the strengthening of financial markets in order to expand intra-regional trade and competitiveness, and boost the Africa Continental Free Trade Area.

Your Excellencies, let there be no doubt, the challenges ahead are still many — including poverty, inequality, fragility, high youth unemployment, significant infrastructure financing gaps, and sustainable debt management.

As we look to the future, let me assure you that the Bank will play a greater role in policy dialogues with countries. We will support sustainable debt management, boost green growth and accelerate the promotion of jobs for youth on the continent.

More than ever before, we will expand partnerships – financial partnerships, knowledge partnerships, and investment partnerships. Stronger inclusive partnerships with civil society, academia and knowledge centers of excellence.

We will reach out and tilt more global capital towards Africa — joining investment hands across the globe to support the needs of the continent.

The Bank will leverage its brand, its knowledge and resources to help do more and better for Africa. We will deepen the Africa Investment Forum and make it a critical driver for this bold investment partnership to help move Africa forward.

Your Excellencies,

We will ensure that Africa’s youth potential is fully unleashed. In this regard, the Bank will support the establishment of Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Banks. Banks that will help to mobilize and deploy capital to drive the entrepreneurship of the youth of Africa — in ways that are systemic, scalable and sustainable.
The shadows of youth unemployment and migration out of Africa must give way to a glowing light of successful youth-driven businesses across Africa. Africa’s youth must stay in Africa, develop Africa, and project Africa’s future.

We will build on the great successes we have had in agriculture, by scaling up technologies to reach tens of millions of farmers and supporting Africa to build competitive agricultural value chains. We will add value to what we produce in Africa, and provide creative and high-tech opportunities for massive youth engagement in agriculture and agribusiness.

The future beckons the Bank to be more agile and more selective; to scale up what’s working already and reinforce its own institutional and human capacity.

Our Bank must ensure its own long-term financial sustainability to drive Africa’s growth further, deeper and faster in the years to come. We must realise the dreams of a more prosperous Africa. A healthier Africa. A more resilient Africa. And, a more developed Africa.

Your Excellencies, Governors, distinguished ladies and gentlemen,

When you first elected me five years ago, I had a vision. Five years later, I have yet a vision to build on our collective achievements over the next five years. A vision to build a much stronger and resilient African Development Bank Group with the leadership and capacity to deliver greater quality impacts for the people of Africa, while remaining financially strong and sustainable.

So, our focus will be on ‘Institution’, ‘People’, ‘Delivery, and ‘Sustainability.’ Each of these are encapsulated in the following five areas which combine with the programmatic High 5s to transform the development landscape of Africa.
● Build a stronger institution
● Strengthen human capacity
● Enhance effectiveness
● Deepen quality and impact
● Maintain financial sustainability
Stronger institution
● Strengthen institutional capacity
● Improve Human Resources
● Build a top-notch IT capacity to enhance effectiveness and productivity in an increasingly digital age
● Strengthen accountability, oversight and compliance systems
● Promote a stronger performance culture
Strengthening human capacity
● Preferred employer in Africa
● Hire and retain top talent
● Improve staff experiences and value propositions
● Enhance career development and mobility
Enhanced Effectiveness
● Improving responsiveness to clients
● Decentralized decision making
● More efficient systems and processes
● Cost effectiveness and value for money
Accelerated Quality and Impacts
● Quality operations
● Enhance policy dialogues, knowledge, and debt management
● Strengthen environmental and social safeguards
● Accelerate development impacts
Financial Sustainability
● Stabilize prudential ratios
● Drive a culture of cost effectiveness
● Balance development objectives and financial sustainability
● Optimize the Bank’s balance sheet
● Leverage global private capital to complement Bank resources
● Ensure the Bank attains its own intrinsic stand-alone ‘AAA’ rating for long term sustainability
With the strong support of the African Heads of State and Governments, Governors of the Bank, Ministers of Finance, the Board of Directors and staff, we will be ready from today, yet again, to roll up our sleeves and continue our collective work to deliver even greater results on our High5s to: Light up and Power Africa; Feed Africa; Industrialize Africa; Integrate Africa; and Improve the Quality of Life of the People of Africa.

The future beckons us for a more developed Africa and a much stronger and resilient African Development Bank.

In our time, Africa must shine like the brightness of the sun.

Together … united, we will achieve this.

So, today, yet again, let us move forward, driven by the power of our mission, inspired by the primacy of our vision and emboldened by the strength of our togetherness.

● Together — we are stronger
● Together — we achieve more
● Together — we become resilient
● Together — we build a better Bank
● Together — we win for Africa!

Thank you very much!

God bless you all – and God bless Africa!


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