BENEDICT TEMBO, Lusaka
THE 51st African Development Bank (AfDB) Group annual meetings closed in Lusaka yesterday with a senior member of the financial institution describing the 2016 edition as a huge success.
â€œIndeed this yearâ€™s annual meetings have been highly successful. The arrangements, facilities and ambience have been very impressive and Zambia must congratulate itself for a job well done. We have had very exciting discussions about the bankâ€™s High 5s transformative development agenda for Africa, which prioritises Lighting up and powering Africa, feeding Africa, industrialising Africa, integrating Africa and ultimately improving the quality of lives of Africans,â€ Charles Lufumpa, the AfDB acting chief economist and vice-president, said.
The AfDBâ€™s High 5 agenda highlights the five priority actions for the Bank and for the continent, which will be the AfDBâ€™s channel for focusing and scaling up its 2013-2022 10-year strategy, to bring about the social and economic transformation of Africa. The High 5s are designed to accelerate development.
Dr Lufumpa, pointing to main thematic focus of the meetings which on energy and climate change said sustainable, affordable and reliable energy is very critical for delivering Africaâ€™s structural transformation agenda and for achieving inclusive growth and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which all countries signed up to in September last year.
â€œThe bank has in this regard launched an ambitious programme â€“ called the New Deal for Energy in Africa â€“ which aims to ensure universal access to electricity for all Africans by 2025, and to do so in a sustainable manner,â€ he said
Dr Lufumpa said the annual meetings have provided a forum for all stakeholders to thoroughly think through the mechanisms for making this a reality.
â€œThe participation and engagement of many former and current Heads of State, ministers, central bank governors, business and civic leaders as well as leading experts on these issues from across Africa and the world, have provided an opportunity for the bank to garner very strong support for its transformative development agenda,â€ Dr Lufumpa said.
Opening the 2016 annual meetings, President Edgar Lungu said the annual meetings have an appropriate focus on a very current challenge of energy and climate change, an issue that threatens to erode the continentâ€™s economic gains of the past decade if not well addressed.
â€œOur expectations are that these meetings will generate resolutions that will help Africa shape its post-2016 development agenda and address the numerous ramifications of energy deficits and climate change confronting the continent. I am confident that our expectations will be met given an array of expertise and experience from your excellencies heads of state and government and indeed the thigh profile finance and development experts participating in the meetings,â€ President Lungu.
Africa Union chairperson Idriss DÃ©by underlined the difficult challenges facing many Africa countries afflicted by climate change-induced drought, famine, and conflict, noting that African countries can overcome some of these challenges through coordinated concrete actions.
Mr Derby, who is president of Chad praised the bankâ€™s High 5 priorities and expressed the hope that every Africa country would have a positive story to share on their benefits at the next annual meetings.
Speaking during the official opening of the AfDB meetings on Tuesday, AfDB Group president Akinwumi Adesina said Africa must think big, act big and deliver big.
â€œWe must never show low ambitions for Africa,â€ Dr Adesina said to the applause of a huge gathering which included heads of state, ministers, business corporates, civil society and the media.
Dr Adesina said through the priorities â€“ Light up and power Africa; Feed Africa; Industrialise Africa; Integrate Africa; and improve the quality of life for the people of Africa â€“ the AfDB has received overwhelming support from the intuitionâ€™s stakeholders across the board.
The New Deal on Energy and the jobs for Africaâ€™s youth initiative were launched on Monday at the meetings on the heels of the launch of the African Leaders for Nutrition initiative, which aims to end malnutrition, chaired by former president of Ghana, John Kufuor.
The initiative is partnering with the African Union/New Partnership on Development, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Kofi Annan Foundation, the Big Win Philanthropy, Dangote Foundation and the World Food Programme. The AfDB also intends to launch a US$3 billion fund to support women.
Similarly, the AfDB Group unveiled the Transformative Partnership on Energy for Africa, a bold co-development model which includes several partners: the African Union, the Africa Progress Panel, NEPAD, President Obamaâ€™s Power Africa initiative, the World Bank, and Sustainable Energy for All, African Energy Leaders Group, the European Union, the UK government, China, France, Germany, Scandinavian countries, Japan, Korea, India, the private sector and others.
Dr Adesina said the AfDB Group decided to focus on lighting up and powering Africa because the continent is the only region of the world where lack of electricity has become the norm.
Over 645 million people lack access to electricity while 700 million do not have access to clean energy for cooking.
Dr Lufumpa said going forward, the focus will be on implementation.
â€œThere is a sense of great urgency this time around because we are in a hurry to lift African people out of poverty and to improve their lives. Of course the Bank cannot do it alone so partnerships will be very critical in ensuring successful undertaking of the work ahead,â€ Dr Lufumpa said.
â€œWe all know painfully well the imperative to fill Africaâ€™s annual $50 billion infrastructure funding gap. Partnerships like these are a crucial part of the development agenda as we seek to promote social and economic development and fight poverty in Africa.â€
â€œFrom these Annual Meetings in Zambia will go out thunders of jubilation for a new Africa, whose time has come. Zambia is always on the positive side of history. By hosting these Annual Meetings in Zambia, I am sure that at the end we will, all, also be on the right side of history,â€ Dr Adesina said.
He said just like Zambia was a front line state in the liberation of Africa, so shall we from these Annual Meetings put the accelerated development of Africa on the front line. And nothing is more important than energy and climate change, the theme of the annual meetings.
More 4,000 participants attended the annual meetings, hailed as the AfDBâ€™s window to the world. These included eminent persons such as Presidents Idriss Deby of Chad and Paul Kagame of Rwanda. Nigeria was represented by vice-president Yemi Osinbajo.
Former Presidents John Kufuor of Ghana, Festus Mogae of Botswana, Horst Kohler of Germany, and Mary Robinson of Ireland, are also attended along with some Prime Ministers, and ministers represented their heads of state.
Also in attendance were three former AfDB presidents â€“ Babacar Ndiaye of Senegal, Omar Kabbaj of Morocco and Kwame Donkor Fordwor of Ghana.
BENEDICT TEMBO, Lusaka