AFDB President, Akinwumi Adesina makes First Official Visit to Finland
The President of the African Development Bank Group, Akinwumi Adesina, met with Finnish officials, in Helsinki, in the last leg of his three-country Nordic visit. In the different meetings, President Adesina thanked Finland for its support to the African Development Bank (ADB) and the African Development Fund (ADF), and called for its continued support to the 14th ADF replenishment.
Finland joined the ADF in 1973 and the AfDB in 1982. It has a EUR 14 million bilateral trust fund with the Bank, which focuses on water management, climate change, forestry management, adaption and environmental issues at large. Finland was the 16th largest contributor to the ADF 13th replenishment with a EUR 126 million contribution. Over the period 2014-2016, the Nordic Development Fund, which is based in Helsinki, also contributed EUR 30 million to support seven AfDB projects in the transport, agriculture and water sectors.
In Finland, President Adesina met with the Minister of Foreign Trade and Development, Lenita Toivakka; the Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who is also the AfDB Governor for Finland, Elina Kalkku; and the Managing Director of the Nordic Development Fund, Pasi Hellmann. He also gave a keynote address on the theme “Unlocking Africa’s development potential” at a seminar organized by the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UN-WIDER) and the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In all the meetings, the officials appreciated the co-operation between the African Development Bank and Finland. They also commended the President for his bold vision for Africa’s development and reiterated their strong support for the work of the African Development Bank. They reaffirmed their commitment to working closely with President Adesina in achieving the High 5s, which include Light up and power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialise Africa, Integrate Africa, and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.
The Governor indicated that Finland had experienced significant cuts in its ODA budget (over 43% in 2015) and so may not reach 80% of its ADF-13 contribution but was looking at new and innovative instruments to complement its contribution to the 14th replenishment of the African Development Fund.
Several issues were discussed during the various meetings, ranging from youth unemployment to climate change to women empowerment, anti-corruption and governance, amongst others. President Adesina informed the officials of the recent approval of the Bank’s Business Development and Delivery Model. He further explained that the Bank was repositioning itself to be closer to its clients in order to deliver faster and at scale. In this regard, in the Bank’s new organizational structure, there will be five General Directorates, for each of the continent’s five sub-regions, which will include the right mix of staff, with the power to make management decisions.
President Adesina stressed the fact that although African economies were facing some headwinds, they remain resilient with the forecast 2016 growth rate at 3.6%, above the 3.2% global growth rate, 2.2% in the USA and 1.9% in the Eurozone. This makes Africa the second fastest growing region in the world, just after emerging Asia. FDI inflows in Africa in 2015 also stood at USD 53 billion.
President Adesina concluded the meetings by indicating that the Bank will explore ways of deepening its co-operation with Finland, and particularly with Finnish enterprises, through various financial instruments such as co-financing. The President suggested that the AfDB set up a fund with the Nordics to help finance entrepreneurship and energy projects in Africa. President Adesina also discussed some of the Bank’s new initiatives such as Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA), Africa50 and Jobs for African Youth Initiative, which was launched at the Bank’s just-concluded 2016 Annual Meetings in Lusaka, Zambia.