“Africa is now the place to be”: In Portugal, AfDB President calls for partnerships to accelerate development

The President of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, has called for more partnerships to accelerate development of the African continent.

“Africa is now the place to be,” he told businessmen and representatives of the Portuguese private sector, during a roundtable co-chaired with Teresa Ribeiro, Portugal’s State Secretary in charge of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and Vice-Governor of Portugal to the AfDB and the African Development Fund.

“We need your vast experience, your knowledge of the field and your expertise, especially in public-private partnerships to increase our chances of achieving our five priorities and accelerate the development of the African continent,” Adesina added, before inviting those present to the Africa Investment Forum that the Bank is hosting in November 2018.

Adesina made the statement during a two-day working visit to Lisbon, Portugal, from November 13 to 14, 2017, at the invitation of the Portuguese authorities. He was accompanied by the Bank’s Executive Director for Portugal, Catherine Cudré-Mauroux.

Mario Centeno, Minister of Finance and AfDB Governor for Portugal, was the first to meet with the President of Africa’s premier development finance institution and welcomed his visit to Lisbon.

“Africa is at top of Portugal’s bilateral and multilateral engagement, and AfDB is at the forefront of that engagement. This augurs well for the strengthening of our successful partnership, which has existed since December 1983,” the Minister said.

Portugal intervenes primarily in infrastructure, water and sanitation and renewable energy sectors in operations mainly located in the Lusophone countries on the continent (Angola, Cabo Verde, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, and São Tomé and Príncipe).

“I want to stress that we are also working in other parts of the continent,” said the Minister. The Maghreb is one of the areas benefiting from official development assistance from Portugal, particularly Morocco with 15%.

Mario Centeno spoke of the recovery of his country, which has experienced economic, financial and social difficulties. “We have better financial and socio-economic results. And this favourable situation will allow us to meet our commitments vis-à-vis the Bank Group,” he said, adding that Portugal will meet its financial commitments to the African Development Fund (ADF) as part of the budget process before the end of 2017.

Regarding the AfDB’s strategic priorities, the Portuguese Minister of Finance said he was “very confident about the Bank’s ability to implement the Bank’s five operational priorities (the High 5s).”

The President of the Bank congratulated the Minister of Finance on the good economic and financial performance of Portugal. “You did an impressive job,” he said before highlighting the AfDB’s investments in Portuguese-speaking African countries. “The African Development Bank is investing nearly US $2.1 billion in Angola and Mozambique, which are the biggest beneficiaries.”

Adesina then spoke of the need for the African Development Bank to continue playing its counter-cyclical role by mobilizing more resources through a general capital increase and increased access by regional member countries to resources to develop infrastructure, and to achieve, in the medium and long term, the Bank’s five operational priorities.

He presented all the institutional reforms initiated by the Bank aimed at speeding up internal procedures and enabling the institution to be more efficient.

Adesina also met with José Joao Guilherme and Pedro Vairinhos, Member of the Board and Head of the International Relations Division of the General Deposit Office of Portugal, respectively, and Georgina Maria Augusta Benrós de Mello, Director General of the Portuguese community of Lusophone African countries.

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