‘My mother told me to dare.’ Inspiring stories from high-level African Development Bank women’s summit

Nafissa Hamidou Abdoulaye has been praised far and wide for her ground-breaking work in agriculture, but securing financing has been an uphill battle. That was until now.

The African Development Bank has decided to jump in and support Abdoulaye, who has for the past five years self-financed her animal feed company Salma, which employs 10 people.

Abdoulaye’s story inspired African Development Bank president Akinwumi Adesina after she spoke at the high-level regional summit of the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) held in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, on April 17, 2019.

The summit was the first regional gathering of the newly formed We-Fi, and was called to discuss how women-owned SMEs can overcome barriers to financing.

The event, co-hosted by the African Development Bank, the World Bank and the Islamic Development Bank, heard many accounts of how women had struggled to make headway as entrepreneurs.

Abdoulaye spoke about how she had been motivated by her mother, a housewife who had raised her and her four siblings as a single parent.  “She told me to dare, don’t just be a mother in the household. Be a woman who in just a few years will be known,” Abdoulaye said.

In 2014, she founded Salma after noticing the vast quantities amounts of animal feed being imported into her country, Niger. Salma used local ingredients to create her feed.

Since then, Abdoulaye has won plaudits for her venture, including being named one of the Francophonie 35 people under 35 to watch in West Africa.

Patricia Zoundi, the founder of Quick Cash and Canaanland  also shared her story at the We-Fi summit.. Quick Cash is a mobile service that allows people in rural areas to transfer money without an internet connection. Canaanland offers a range of services to rural people, such as training and helping them gain access to markets.

Shortly after the two women spoke, Adesina took to the stage and announced that the Bank would invest in Zandou and Abdoulaye’s businesses.

Adesina said Africa’s economy could only thrive once women were brought on board.

“When women win, Africa wins. Truth be told, women run Africa,” Adesina told delegates.

Other major announcements at the We-Fi Summit included a US $2 million facility for 300 cocoa cooperatives in Cote d’Ivoire, by Mars, Nestle, Hershey and other multinationals, along with USAID and the World Cocoa Foundation. A further 500 associations will also be given access to the formal financing market.

The announcement was made by Ivanka Trump, senior advisor to US President Donald Trump, who had earlier visited a successful cocoa farm run by an association made up women outside Abidjan.

“This was a perfect example of women championing women, women supporting women … This is what happens when women work together, but you need the role models, because, unless you see it, you can’t believe it’s possible,” Trump said.

World Bank president Kristalina Georgieva said her institution had developed innovative tools to help women overcome barriers to financing.

“With gender equality, the wealth of our planet could be $164 trillion greater. So we owe it to everyone to remove the barriers that women face,” she said.

Bandar Hajjar, president of the Islamic Development Bank, said We-Fi was an opportunity for his bank to increase its focus on women-led SMEs under its Business Resilience Assistance for the Value-Adding Enterprises (BRAVE) programme.

“Through the grant provided under We-Fi, the Islamic Development Bank targets the specific barriers women enterprises are facing to enhance their resilience in fragile contexts as potential engines for innovation, employment and sustainable inclusive growth,” Hajjar said.

We-Fi is a US$345 million fund that seeks to promote financing for women. It is a collaborative partnership among 14 governments, eight implementing partners, multilateral development banks, and other public and private sector stakeholders.

African Development Bank Hails Canada’s US$1.1 billion pledge in callable capital support

On the sidelines of the World Bank-IMF Spring meetings, Canada announced a $1.1 billion commitment in temporary callable capital to support the African Development Bank.

Canada’s announcement, to be approved by the Bank’s governors, was made by Maryam Monsef, the Canadian Minister of International Development and for Women and Gender Equality.

“I am happy to say that today, Canada is demonstrating its commitment to African countries and our confidence in the African Development Bank by announcing that we are going to subscribe up to US$ 1.1 billion in temporary callable capital, if required.” Minister Monsef told members of the Diplomatic Corps based in Washington D.C., governors of the African Development Bank, executive directors, including executive director David Stevenson, who represents Canada, China, Korea, Turkey and Kuwait. The Bank’s senior management team was also in attendance.

The announcement comes a day after a meeting of the Bank’s governors in Washington D.C. to continue discussions on a 7th General Capital Increase.

“The African Development Bank is a key partner for Canada and we are committed to supporting the Bank’s African member countries. Canada and Canadians are proud of our long history of partnership and collaboration with Africa,” Monsef noted, before reminding the 100 attendees that Canada was determined to ensure that “no less than 50% of bilateral development assistance is dedicated to sub-Saharan Africa by 2021-2022.”

Commenting on the announcement, the Bank’s President, Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina said “Canada’s commitment and support is a huge boost to the African Development Bank. It will allow the Bank to strengthen its Triple A rating and increase lending to member countries while discussions are ongoing among all shareholders for a general capital Increase.”

“Your announcement is a clear indication that Canada has strong confidence in the African Development Bank,” Adesina added, while extending the Bank’s appreciation to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for Canada’s unwavering support.

Minister Monsef urged other AAA-rated member countries to join Canada in providing temporary callable capital to the Bank. “I sincerely hope that this announcement will facilitate the general capital Increase negotiations and help support your efforts. Canada stands with you.”

In a follow-up bilateral meeting, Minister Monsef and President Adesina discussed values and interests in common on gender and increasing access to finance for women, as well as on climate and renewable energy issues.

Canada has been a member of the African Development Bank since January 1983 and has participated in all general capital increases of the Bank. It provided temporary callable capital in 2010 while the GCI VI negotiations were ongoing.  That decision enabled the Bank to continue to provide its support to regional member countries in the aftermath of the international financial crisis.

As at 30 June 2018, Canada’s total capital subscribed amounted to $3.5 billion of which $252 million has been paid in and $3.22 billion stands as callable capital, making Canada the 4th largest shareholder among the Bank’s non-regional member countries.

AfDB organizes roadshow to whet investor interest ahead of Africa Investment Forum 2019

Department and city businesses

The African Development Bank has organised a roadshow to drum up support from Angolan investors ahead of the second edition of the Africa Investment Forum (AIF) in November 2019.

The Angola Country Office of the African Development Bank Group, in collaboration with Executive Director of the Export Promotion and Private Investment Agency (AIPEX) and the Ministry of Economy and Planning (MEP), organized the Luanda roadshow, held on 11 April 2019. About 170 participants from the public and private sector attended.

The Bank’s maiden investment forum held in November 2018 saw an unprecedented gathering of world-class investors, meeting with the aim of bridging the continent’s growing infrastructure investment gap. The event exceeded all expectations with projects worth over US$38.7 billion securing investment interest in 72 hours.

 Joseph Ribeiro, Bank Country manager for Angola, Ezekiel Odiogo, the Africa Investment Forum Department’s Head of Private Sector Investment Operations, Neima Ferreira, Senior Investment Officer of the Africa Investment Forum and Elsa Nabenge, consultant economist and local private sector focal point, represented the Bank team at the event.

During the event, Marcelino Pinto, MEP Director for Economy, Competitiveness and Innovation and José Chinjamba, AIPEX Executive Director, showcased Angola’s economic reform plans over the last 15 months, aimed at attracting foreign investments and creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.

They highlighted the fact that the Angolan authorities had established the Domestic Production, Export Diversification, and Import Substitution programme (PRODESI), as part of its agenda to achieve accelerated private sector-led economic diversification.  

 “The implemented and ongoing set of reforms, as well as the instruments of credit facilitation, attest to the Government’s willingness to support private activities in order to take advantage of opportunities offered by platforms such as the Africa Investment Forum,” Pinto told participants, made up of representatives of commercial banks, development financial institutions, transaction advisors and investment fund managers.

Also addressing the gathering, Ribeiro said Angola needed substantial investments in strategic sectors for diversified economic development, in order to enhance its position as Sub-Saharan Africa’s third largest economy.

“To this end, it is not only fundamental, but necessary, to join efforts to overcome the challenges that are posed to the development of the private sector in Angola,” he added.

Representatives of chambers of commerce in Angola, start-ups and accelerators, project sponsors, promoters and developers also attended the event.

To date, 26 projects have been identified in Angola, covering various sectors including infrastructure, agribusiness, waste management and recycling, renewable energy and ICT. The projects are currently being screened through ongoing B2B sessions.   

The Angola roadshow is one of several other events to be convened in the Southern Africa region by the Bank’s Africa Investment Forum team in preparation for the 2019 Forum, which will take place from 13-15 November 2019, at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.

African Development Bank VP Amadou Hott joins new Senegal Cabinet

President Macky Sall of Senegal has announced the appointment of Amadou Hott, Vice President for Power, Energy, Climate and Green Growth at the African Development Bank, as Minister of Economy, Planning and Cooperation.

According to Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, “I am delighted with the announced appointment of Amadou Hott. He has done a great job as a Vice President at the African Development Bank, where he has helped to adeptly position and manage our power, energy and climate work, including several innovative and transformative energy projects.”

Amadou Hott joined the African Development Bank in 2016.

Responding further to the announcement Adesina said, “Amadou has been a great member of the senior leadership group of the African Development Bank Group and has made immense contributions. While I will greatly miss him, he certainly will be a great addition to the cabinet of President Macky Sall, to help deliver on his vision for a faster transformation of Senegal. I am confident that Amadou will significantly contribute to the advancement of Senegal and strongly deepen the excellent partnership that exists between Senegal and the African Development Bank.”

ADB welcomes partners to multilateral development bank (MDB) roundtable to strengthen collaboration on donor relations and fund management

The African Development Bank Group (www.AfDB.org) hosted 11 sister institutions for the annual multilateral development bank (MDB) roundtable on trust funds and co-financing, held on 28-29 March, 2019.   

The aim of the roundtable was to enhance benchmarking across the development finance institutions (DFIs), raise awareness of emerging innovative approaches to resource mobilisation and of new tools for cooperation, and to share institutional knowledge and best practices. Ultimately, its goal is to share the most efficient methods for mobilising resources towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

This year’s roundtable took stock of ongoing institutional reforms to the trust fund and co-financing environment in each MDB. Delegates noted the increased decentralisation of partnership and donor relation functions and outlined solutions to some of the challenges that such changes can bring. The group also discussed the role of developing countries in the establishment and management of the trust funds, and best practices in donor reporting. Roundtable sessions also considered blended finance and lessons learned in implementing European Commission (EC) funded projects, given the EC’s increasing influence on concessional resource flows, despite not being represented on the boards of most MDBs. 

The World Bank’s director for trust funds and partner relations, Dirk Reinermann, led a dedicated session on the growing business of financial intermediary funds (FIFs), 25 of which the World Bank is currently trustee. The African Development Bank team provided a number of case studies during a session on de-risking tools to crowd in private sector investments in low-income countries, highlighting the work of the private sector credit enhancement facility (PSF) as well as its balance sheet optimisation work, which has helped to release headroom for further investment in fragile states. 

Overall, the discussions raised the notion of ‘less is more’ given the increasing “bilateralization of multilateralism”, as one participant put it. Most MDBs prefer to scale up existing funds rather than proliferate the number of vehicles, although this remains a challenge. Ultimately, there was a consensus that the roundtable was a useful platform for working on common principles for donor communication, reporting and trust fund administration. 

Co-chair of the event, Desire Vencatachellum, director of the resource mobilisation and partnerships department at the African Development Bank, said, “We must all deliver on our individual mandates while addressing complex global development issues, partnerships and alliances. This was a great opportunity for peer-to-peer exchanges of ideas and sharing best practices to address the common challenges we all seem to be facing”. 

Akhil Patel of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Developmentnoted, “There’s real scope to take joint positions on certain themes and present more of a unified front in a number of areas, in addition to sharing ideas and solutions.” 

Ilaria Caetani of the Asian Development Bank, who participated in the Roundtable for the first time, added, “My main takeaway from these 2 days has definitely been the sense of solidarity”. 

Attendees included representatives of the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Asian Development Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the Council of Europe Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Islamic Development Bank.  The MDB membership group also comprises the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank and the New Development Bank.

AU and AfDB reaffirm commitment to accelerate the continent’s economic transformation

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), Moussa Faki Mahamat and the President of the African Development Bank Akinwumi Adesina, met Tuesday in Addis Ababa to reaffirm their commitment to accelerate Africa’s economic transformation.

The AU and AfDB pushing for economic transformation in Africa

Mahamat and Adesina co-chaired a high-level consultative meeting attended by senior management of both institutions to take stock of the ongoing collaboration between the two institutions. Discussions focused on ways to strengthen partnership in delivering Agenda 2063 and other global frameworks for development.

AUC Chairperson Mahamat noted the strong alignment of the African Development Bank’s High 5 strategic priorities with the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“The African Development Bank is the financial muscle of the African Union as far as Agenda 2063 is concerned, and we need to further institutionalize this partnership to make it more effective,” Mahamat said.

Addressing the audience, Adesina recalled that it was at the first meeting of the AUC, then known as the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1963, that heads of state endorsed the establishment of the African Development Bank. Since then, there has been a long history of cooperation between the two institutions.

“We must, therefore, build on the long-standing relations between our two institutions and pool our collective expertise and resources in pursuit of the economic development and social transformation of our dear continent,” he said.

Adesina underscored the strategic importance of the Joint Secretariat Support Office (JSSO) for the African Union Commission, UNECA and the African Development Bank. He also reaffirmed the Bank’s need to position JSSO as a platform to foster effective coordination and collaboration, while leveraging the comparative advantages of the three pan-African institutions.

The Meeting welcomed the appointment of Lamin Barrow as the new Director for the JSSO and the Bank’s Permanent Representative to the African Union.

In a declaration issued at the end of the meeting, both leaders pledged to support the speedy implementation of various continental initiatives, Agenda 2063 and its 12 Flagship Programmes. These include the implementation of the Grand Inga Dam Port; the African Passport and Free Movement of People; the establishment of a Single African Air Transport Market; an African Virtual University; the Integrated High Speed Train Network and the establishment of a Continental Free Trade Area.

The institutions further recognized the need to continue to explore opportunities to accelerate the implementation of programmes with Regional Economic Communities and partners.

The communique resolved to prepare an action plan for the implementation of the resource mobilization strategy set in place to advance the continent’s development agenda.

The institutions also committed to work together for the successful replenishment of the African Development Fund and the Bank Group’s General Capital Increase.

The President rounded off his engagement at the AU Summit with a series of bilateral meetings, beginning with new AU Chairman and President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, H.E.M. Abdel Fattah el-Sis. Adesina also held talks with Julius Maada Bio, President of Sierra Leone, Demesse Makonnen, Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia and Raila Odinga, African Union Special Envoy on Infrastructure.

AfDB and ECOWAS sign agreement for study on Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway

The African Development Bank (www.AfDB.org) and the Economic Community Of West African States Commission (ECOWAS) have signed an agreement for a study into a 1,000 kilometre highway linking Cote d’Ivoire’s commercial capital Abidjan, to Lagos in Nigeria, marking a new step in building regional integration and trade.

The proposed Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway, a six-lane (3-lane dual) motorway, will connect the countries via Ghana (Accra), Togo (Lomé) and Benin (Cotonou).The agreement signed Monday for a study on the technical, implementation and operational aspects of the project, comes nearly five years after the presidents of Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria, signed a treaty on the establishment of the highway in March 2014.

Jean Claude Brou, President of the ECOWAS Commission, Vice President of the ECOWAS Commission Finda Koroma, the Nigerian Ministry of Power, Works and Housing and Chairman of the Ministerial Steering Committee for the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway Development Program, Babatunde Raji Fashola, attended the ceremony, which took place in Abuja, Nigeria. European Union (EU) Head of Co-operation in Abuja Kurt Cornelis, together with other relevant stakeholders, were also present at the event.

The Bank has approved a financing package of US$12.6 million to finance part of the study for project and mobilized a Euro 9.1 million grant from the EU Commission, bringing the total financing for this important study, to US$22.7 million.

By linking some of Africa’s largest and economically dynamic cities, the road will promote cross-border trade and integrate fast-growing economies within the ECOWAS. This is expected to contribute to reducing the poverty levels of the population that depends on inter regional trade for livelihood.

Ebrima Faal, Senior Director of the Bank’s Nigeria office noted that “the Bank remains fully committed to the 2020 ECOWAS Vision. “We will work closely with the public and private sectors to unlock new sources of growth for Africa, while reducing inequality between countries and within countries. Together, we can unlock the enormous potentials of the West African region and deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals for the region,” Faal said.