Africa and India have development journeys to share with huge opportunities to explore together, says President of African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina.
He made the remark as India is set to host the 52nd Annual Meetings of the Bank in Ahmedabad next week. “Africa-India trade rose five-fold in the last decade and is forecast to double – to US $100 billion – by 2018,” … huge opportunities to explore together, not least in harnessing solar power to promote economic growth, and sharing the know-how of agricultural transformation,” he said.
Speaking to the Indian press ahead of the Annual Meetings, Adesina charted a deepening partnership between Africa and India. He praised the Indian Government for its commitment to Africa, citing the success of the India-Africa Forum, and the evidence of the 2015 US $10 billion line of credit to be delivered over the next five years – through the Exim Bank of India – to Indian companies wishing to invest in Africa.
He also highlighted the US $9.5 million of grants made in Africa through the India Africa Cooperation Trust Fund, and the Kukuza project development company, an Africa-India initiative based in Mauritius, which is developing a pipeline of bankable infrastructure projects in Africa.
“I take my inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi,” said Adesina, “in wanting to ‘be the change you want to see in the world’. I want Africa, already a place brimming with opportunity, to win its own place in the world’s workshops and marketplaces – to become a global industrial powerhouse.”
In underlining Africa’s economic success – 14 out of 54 countries grew by over 5% in 2016, and 18 by 3-5% – he stressed the importance of building skills and creating jobs for the young people of Africa. He praised the Indian Government for taking in African students of higher education, with the current 15,000-20,000 a year set to double in a decade.
He saw the greatest area of potential collaboration in the power sector, in which the Bank will invest US $12 billion over the next five years, and leverage a further US $45-50 billion. “You can’t develop in the dark”, he said, “and 645 million Africans are currently without electricity. A special area in which I hope Africa and India will work together is under the International Solar Alliance. Both are blessed with sunshine, and we have to use this solar energy to power our economies.”
The focus of the 2017 Annual Meetings of the Bank, taking place from May 22-26 in Ahmedabad, he said, will be on transforming Africa by transforming agriculture.
“Our aim is for Africa to feed Africa, and eventually for Africa to feed the world. I am a great admirer of how India fed itself. When I was first here – working in the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics in Hyderabad in 1988 – India was asking itself how to do this. The great M. S. Swaminathan, a pioneer of India’s Green Revolution, said that there were three main ingredients – political will, resources and technology – and it was done in three years.”
Commenting on India’s development journey, he said: “Prime Minister Modi has positioned India globally. His focus on ‘Make in India’ is something we want to see on our continent: ‘Make in Africa’”.