The President of the African Development Bank Group, Akinwumi Adesina, has urged African diplomats to work harder on promoting the development of the continent by exploring business opportunities that can mutually benefit their hosts as well as their home countries.
Adesina spoke at the gathering of the African diplomatic corps and local business people in Tokyo and Seoul on Friday and Saturday, respectively.
The gatherings were within the context of an ongoing working visit to three non-regional Asian members of the Bank Group by a team of senior officials led by the AfDB President which began in Japan on 24 March. The second-leg of the mission began in Seoul on Saturday while the third segment will commence in Beijing on 28 March.
African diplomats in both countries said the meetings with the AfDB have helped to identify areas where the Bank can make good returns on investment by supporting businesses in their hosts and home countries, respectively.
They urged the Bank not to forget the SMEs that account for a large majority of the African private sector.
Estifanos Afeworki, Eritrea’s Ambassador to Japan and dean of the African diplomatic corps in Tokyo, said that, since African economies were performing well at this time, there should be more emphasis on private sector engagements rather than on aid in transactions between the continent and its rich partners.
His colleague, the Ambassador of Angola in Seoul, described Korea as one of the best examples of how to be an industrialized nation in a short time, noting that the continent can lead the post-2015 development agenda and that it should stop focusing on exporting raw materials and natural resources.
Adesina agreed that the continent was performing well economically and in terms of GDP growth which stood at 4.4 % in 2015. He also said that the AfDB was equally doing well as most of its staff have returned to base and its operations in 2015 far exceeded what was achieved the previous year.
However, the challenges posed by inadequate infrastructure, especially in the energy sector, unemployment and rising poverty, were such that the continent still requires support from its partners to tackle some of the pressing challenges it faces.
In this regard, he urged the ambassadors to use their diplomatic skills to negotiate meaningful support to accelerate the continent’s development.