AfDB President Calls for Strengthening India-Africa Economic Cooperation
The President of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, concluded on Monday a four-day mission to India, where he led a delegation ahead of the bank’s 2017 annual meetings which will take place from 22 May to 26 May in Ahmedabad, in the country’s western state of Gujarat.
During his visit, apart from checking the advancement of preparations for AfDB’s big annual gathering, Adesina and his delegation met with senior Indian officials as well as representatives from the private sector to discuss ways to strengthen India’s economic cooperation with the bank and Africa more generally.
AfDB’s president also participated in a day-long interactive session with Indian business leaders aimed at discussing potential avenues for facilitating business engagements between the South Asian giant and the African continent.
“I am very bullish about Africa-India relations,” he said to Indian CEOs gathered in New Delhi, identifying sectors such as power, pharmaceuticals, water, agriculture, and rail as having much potential for enhanced economic cooperation between the two sides.
Adesina insisted on the importance of leveraging multi-level cooperation, including at governmental, business, and institutional levels, which could greatly benefit Indian stakeholders wanting to do business in Africa. He also underlined the cooperation between the AfDB and the Export Import Bank of India as a promising example to follow.
Over the last decade, trade and investment flows between African economies and India have increased substantially, with India now being the fifth largest investor country in Africa. According to AfDB, India’s exports to Africa rose from US$7 billion in 2005-2006 to around US$25 billion today, while its imports from Africa jumped from US$5 billion to US$31 billion during the same period.
In an effort to intensify India’s commitment towards Africa’s development, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi had announced at the Third India-Africa Forum Summit in December 2015 a US$10 billion concessional credit over five years to support a variety of development-related projects on the continent.
Engaging with the New Development Bank on infrastructure
Participating to the second annual meeting of the New Development Bank (NDB) in New Delhi, AfDB’s president congratulated the NDB team for the launch of the bank and the approval of a first set of projects in April 2016, while encouraging the NDB to “do more” in Africa.
Established in 2014 by the BRICS and made operational the following year, the NDB is a multilateral development bank that finances infrastructure and development projects in BRICS and other emerging and developing countries (see Bridges Weekly, 17 July 2014).
In his address to the meeting, Adesina stressed that strengthening the India-Africa “strategic partnership” is especially important in the area of infrastructure, where the continent’s financing gap is estimated at around US$ 50 billion a year. He also underlined the various efforts put in place by the bank to address this urgent issue, including the forthcoming launch of an African investment forum as well as the establishment of Africa50, a new infrastructure entity that aims to facilitate the financing of infrastructure projects.
“At the top of the list is electricity. Some 645 million Africans do not have access to electricity. We're determined to change this quickly,” Adesina said, indicating that AfDB’s New Deal for Africa intends to “connect 130 million people to the grid system, 75 million people through off-grid systems and provide 150 million people with access to clean cooking energy.”
“I am very pleased that the New Development Bank is investing in the energy sector and I'd like to invite you to join us in this huge task to light up and power Africa,” he added.