AfDB President, Akinwumi Adesina


In this interview with Nigerian journalists on the sidelines of the
World Bank/International Monetary Fund annual meetings in the United
States of America, the President of the African Development Bank, Dr.
Akinwumi Adesina, talks about how women and youths to excel in their
enterprises. Excerpts:

What's AfDB doing to support women?

We are supporting women. I think when Africa gets the issue of women's
rights, it will get everything right. And so there is the issue of
access of women to financing that we provide through Affirmative
Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA). This will help to mobilize
$3 billion for businesses for women on the continent.

The other one is that we actually supported another fund which is
called the Alethia Identity Fund, which has just closed at $75 million
and that is to support growth capital for the businesses for women. So
in other words, the small, medium and large businesses for women are
what we are supporting. Finally, I will like to see financial
institutions in Africa being held fully accountable when it comes to
financing women.

And so the bank will be launching what we call the Women Financing
Index for Africa in which all financial institutions in Africa will be
rated based on their lending to women. So, both in terms of the volume
of lending, in terms of the terms of lending and in terms of the
development impact of their lending for women. So, those who lend more
to women will get more resources from us at a discounted rate from us,
so you can lend more and have more impact for women.

So, we are focused massively on how we can drive investments for
women. That’s a big issue for us, just to give you an update on that.
We raised $251 million from the G7 leaders when I was in Biarritz with
President Macron. It was great.

Can you elaborate on the Green Capital thing that the Africa
Development Bank launched recently? What is it about?

Let me just say more generally as a bigger issue, when it comes to
driving green growth on the continent. I believe that achieving green
growth on the continent is not an externally imposed issue, it is in
Africa’s interest to actually have green growth, to have clean air,
clean water and to grow in an environment where people have a good
quality of life.

And so, you can have GDP growth but if you are having GDP growth in
which it’s occurring huge amount of emissions, pollution of water, of
air, it’s not improving the life of anybody. So, anybody telling me in
any part of the world that my GDP is growing, that is not my concern.
My question is: is at what cost? What does it mean for the lives of

So, for us at the bank, we are very big on renewable energy. Today, we
have doubled climate finance as an institution from $12 billion to $25
billion by 2025. Secondly, about 50 percent of our climate financing
is on climate adaptation. Because you see a lot of droughts, you see a
lot of floods, you see all of these extreme weather patterns that are
happening. So, we are actually doing a lot of that to support
countries to adapt to climate change.

The other thing, of course, is that we have just launched an
initiative which is called Desert to Power, meant to provide universal
access to electricity all across the 11 countries in the Sahelian Zone
of West and Central Africa.

The Sahelian Zone has the least access to electricity, but it also has
the highest problems in terms of migration towards Europe. It also has
the highest problem in terms of insecurity and fragility, and the
highest challenge in terms of fertility rate. If you look at the birth
rate in Niger, for example, that has almost 0.8 percent of rural
access rate for electricity, the fertility rate is 7.2 per woman,
which is one of the highest in the world. So, there is a direct
correlation or association between not having electricity and rising
fertility rate.

What we have done is that we are leading this effort that will provide
electricity for 250 million people across the 11 countries and 90
million of those will be through off-grid systems because of the
sparse populations there. It is our biggest effort, and it’s going to
be the world’s largest solar zone. We are not just talking about it.

We have started in Burkina Faso with a project called Yellen Rural
Electrification Project which is a solar-based project we are doing
with Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the French Agency for
Development. We also have another one we’ve done in Chad that is
called Djameya Solar Power Plant Project. We have in Mali and other
places as well.

And of course, this will include northern Nigeria because we are
working on a 1,000 megawatts solar power project that is going to be
in Jigawa. So we take the whole of the Sahelian part of that.

Just to conclude on that, we have launched something that’s called the
Green Based Loan Facility, a $500 million facility that will allow us
to support countries that want to move out of dependency on coal or
other fossil-based energy sources towards renewable energy, so that we
are able to provide you financing at a cheaper cost to be able to make
that transition.

What will be the criteria for eligibility for the Green Based Loan facility?

It is open for any country that wants to have access to it. It is that
you must have a bankable project that can use it and you will meet all
the conditions that the bank will normally require, but it is an open
thing for any of the countries willing and interested in doing it,
even the private sector by the way.

What is the total climate fund that AfDB has committed in Nigeria in
recent times, say within the last three years?

The issue for us with climate finance is we build climate finance into
our projects. For example, if you take the case I just mentioned to
you now, we are supporting the development of a thousand megawatts of
solar that is going to be in the Jigawa area, which is huge for us. We
provided as well for the evacuation of power in Nigeria with the
Transmission Company of Nigeria.

We provided them with $200 million that can support the evacuation of
power and that is a big problem in Nigeria because of the liquidity
crisis that is in the energy sector. We have also provided support to
the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET) so it can meet some of
its own payment requirements to those supplying them with gas.

The other thing that we are doing obviously that is linked to the
climate in Nigeria is in the north of Nigeria where we have put about
$253 million into the North-east area project because a lot of the
challenges we are facing are linked to climate: population growth,
urbanization, climate, and environmental degradation. So, some of the
challenges you find, the fragility you find in that part of the
country comes from that. That’s why we built climate finance into our
financing in the sector.


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