By: Momodou Camara
Africa is not hidden. Its shining light is seen in its people, their entrepreneurship, creativity and intellectual accomplishments. But you rarely hear these stories: stories of its gallant strides, surmounting obstacles, rising each day, with determination to lead, not just follow. Few people know that Africa has produced 26 Nobel Prize winners, including Nobel Peace Prize laureates.
Africa’s boundless hope can be felt by those who invest there. Africa today has 6 out of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world. Africa is also the second destination in attracting foreign direct investment, second only to Asia. This year we project that GDP growth will rise to 4%, double what it was in 2016. And 45% of the countries will experience growth rate of above 5%. That’s way above the global growth average of 3%. In November of 2018, the African Development Bank decided to take the story of Africa as an investment magnet to the rest of the world. We organized the first Africa Investment Forum. The Forum was a unique one, without speeches; the focus sharply placed on transactions to invest in projects that’ll help change the lives of people on the continent.
The buzz went out around the world and 2,000 participants showed up, with investors from 53 countries around the world. A total of $38.7 billion of investment interest for projects was secured in less than 72 hours. What do these investors see? They of course know the challenges in Africa, but they see beyond challenges. They see opportunities. It’s these opportunities that Korea also sees as it partners with the Africa Development Bank. Indeed, in May last year the government of Korea hosted the annual meeting of the African Development bank in the beautiful city of Busan. Ministers of finance from across Africa gathered for the Korea-Africa Forum for Economic Development (KOAFEC). It was amazing. The government of Korea signed a bilateral agreement for $5 billion support for Africa. It renewed its Korea Trust Fund at the African Development bank with an additional $18 million, bringing the fund to about $100 million, to support capacity building for Africans.
We’re setting up a Korea-Africa Tech Corps program that will link the young and bright tech entrepreneurs between Korea and Africa, in what’ll be a partnership for building our common wealth. Across all of Asia, from Japan, to China and India, there’s thriving partnerships that’ll make Asia and Africa grow together. Today, Korean scientists from Silla University are helping Tunisians deploy drones to assess and monitor soil degradation. Rwanda is the first country in the world with a drone port, allowing it to transport blood for transfusion to remote highlands. And more can be done, to build on Africa’s giant strides in mobile telephony. Today, Africa leads the world in the number of mobile phones.
The mobile money transfer system that’s taking the world by storm started in Africa, with the M-PESA in Kenya, which now allows at least $23 billion to be moved through mobile phones. The African Development Bank and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have established a $ 400 million Financial Inclusion Fund to provide millions of low-income households, especially women, with access to savings bank accounts. To power Africa’s drive into the fourth industrial revolution, we’re investing heavily in building ICT infrastructure across Africa. Our investment of $300 million in the Central Africa Backbone will accelerate access to Internet across this landlocked region. Our $160 million investment in the Trans-Sahara backbone will connect Niger, Chad and Nigeria, to Algeria.
A digitally smart Africa will emerge, driven by technology, innovation and entrepreneurship. When I was elected President of the African Development Bank in 2015, we sharply focused our work to help fast-track Africa’s development. Our High 5 priorities were developed to: Light Up and Power Africa; Feed Africa; Industrialize Africa; Integrate Africa; and Improve the quality of life of the people of Africa. Achieving these High 5s will, according to the UNDP, enable Africa to achieve 90% of the Sustainable Development Goals. The Bank’s High 5s are having significant impacts across the continent. In 2018, 4.5 million people were connected to new or improved electricity grids through our “Light Up and Power Africa” High 5. About 19 million people gained access to improved agricultural technologies under our Feed Africa High 5. Our Industrialize Africa High 5 provided 1.1 million people to benefits from private sector investment projects. About 14 million people gained access to better transport services through our Integrate Africa High 5.
And finally, 8 million people benefitted from improved access to water and sanitation under our “Improve the Quality of Life” High5. By any measure these are very impressive numbers and impacts. But the needs in Africa are higher and we’ve still got a long way to go until we provide universal access to electricity; assure food security for the continent; integrate Africa; industrialize the continent; and improve the quality of life for Africans. The Bank is engaged in discussions with its shareholders for a General Capital Increase for the Bank. This will allow us to do more for Africa, towards the Agenda 2063, “The Africa we want.” And Korea has always been one of the Bank’s great supporters.
We look forward to its strong support to help achieve this much needed General Capital Increase for the African Development Bank. Just think about what Africa will look like with a General Capital Increase paid in capital for the African Development Bank: *105 million people will get access to electricity. *137 million people will benefit from access to improvements in agriculture. *22 million people will benefit from private sector investment projects. *151 million people will have improved access to transport. *110 million people will have access to new and improved water and sanitation. What a shining Africa that would be! As Africa’s “optimist in chief” let me say, you’ll hear a new song, as we encourage ourselves with a paraphrase of the words of the Psalmist: “Africa, arise and shine for your light has come and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising”! Like the sparkle of the diamonds, you’ll see a shining Africa, an Africa that despite its challenges has finally taken its place in the global community. Arise, Africa, for now is your destined time! Thank you once again for the great honor of receiving the SunHak Peace Prize. God bless you all. Concluded!
*** All quoted figures are as per the 11th. April, 2019.
OF THE WEEK
Many people I meet have a complex relationship with money. They may desire it, fear it, or even despise it. I’ve seen families torn apart by it; neighbors fight over it; and friendships lost by it. I’ve also seen the power of charitable giving where lives are transformed from it.
Money is partly a reflection, an illusion, and a relationship. Finance is equal parts numbers and emotion.
Here are some quotes to help us think about money:
“Money often costs too much.”
By–Ralph Waldo Emerson
“The stock market is a device for transferring money from the impatient to the patient.” By–Warren Buffett
“A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.”
“It’s not your salary that makes you rich, it’s your spending habits.”
“Don’t tell me where your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I’ll tell you what they are.”
“Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.”