A speech by Akinwumi Adesina as he stood for a second term as President of the African Development Bank:
“As we meet today, the world has changed. A global COVID-19 health pandemic has upended all plans including travels. Health and safety have become primary for all decision making. That’s why the Governors of the Bank took the extraordinary decision to hold the Annual Meetings virtually for the first time in the history of the Bank.
Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures. I applaud the Governors of the Bank for your wisdom, sensitivity and leadership.
The COVID-19 pandemic is spreading fast and causing much havoc and untold hardships. Lives lost too many. Jobs lost unimaginable. Economic losses too deep and vast to fathom.
Our collective humanity has never been so challenged so tested, so vulnerable. Yet our interdependency, our need for pulling together, uniting and staying focused together,has never been more important.
For in unity we build strength. Strength to overcome, even the most challenging of obstacles.
Pulling together has always been the strength of the African Development Bank.
We pulled together right here in Abidjan, where you the shareholders approved the largest capital increase in the history of the Bank – raising the capital of the Bank by $115 billion.
We pulled together, yet again, in Pretoria, South Africa, and gave the African Development Fund 35% increase in financing – financing so crucial to low income countries and fragile states.
Fragility is transient, resilience is enduring.
Today as you look at Côte d’Ivoire, you would not remember it also was a fragile state. Yet, today, based on visionary leadership, sound macroeconomic policies and people centered policies, it has changed dramatically.
Today, like beauty from ashes, the country ranked among the top 10 fastest growing economies in the world, before the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the pandemic, Africa has lost over a decade of gains of economic growth. Africa’s recovery will be long and difficult. Now we must help Africa to build back, boldly, but smartly, paying greater attention to quality growth: health, climate and the environment.
Yet even in these challenging times, the Board of Directors of the African Development Bank pulled together to support Africa. The Bank launched a $10 billion COVID-19 Response Facility to support African countries. We launched a $3 billion social bond on the global market – the largest US dollar denominated social bond ever in world history.
These actions reflect our ambition, our unshaken commitment and unyielding responsibility to support, stabilize and strengthen African economies.
As we stabilize nations, so also must we stabilize the Bank — our institution.
The past several months no doubt have been challenging for the Bank. Yet, we pulled together. I would like to sincerely thank you all, our esteemed Governors, under the excellent leadership and wisdom of the Chairperson, Minister Niale Kaba, for joining hands to steady the Bank.
I am proud of the African Development Bank and the strength of our governance systems.
I am proud of each and every shareholder of the Bank who challenged and made us all better.
Our experience has made us better and stronger. Our challenges, though difficult, have become our gain.
But it’s not been easy… I will reach out… I will engage…
We will HEAL…
Africa needs a strong and stable African Development Bank to support it through this pandemic and help its economies rebound for better, healthier lives and livelihoods for its people. And the African Development Bank needs you — our shareholders — as you always have been: united and strong.
Five years ago, right here in Abidjan, you elected me as President of the African Development Bank. It was such a great honor and a responsibility placed on my shoulders. I promised to work hard, to accelerate Africa’s development. My vision for the High5s was my bond — my oath of office, my compass!
Time has gone so fast. Fast also has been our impacts in those five years for Africa’s progress: 18 million people now have access to electricity. 141 million people have benefitted from improved agricultural technologies for food security. 15 million people have access to finance. 101 million people have access to improved transport. And 60 million people have gained access to water and sanitation.
I thank the Board of Directors and my extraordinary staff at the Bank for working so hard and for strongly supporting us to get this done.
But we will have no rest. The price of good work is more work. We have our work cut out for us —now more than ever — to help Africa rebound; and to get back on a stronger pathway of economic growth and resilience.
Today, I stand before you with gratefulness for your strong and collective support over the past five years.
We succeeded – together!
And together, we must also go forward, reaching for what lies before us to help fast track Africa’s development — building on our collective achievements, strengthening weaknesses and deepening our impacts.
At this Annual Meetings, I offer myself to you, our Governors, for your consideration for election for a second term, as President.
I do so, with humility.
I do so with a strong sense of duty and commitment and a call to serve Africa and our Bank, selflessly, to the very best of my God-given abilities. I do so with confidence in the power of our mission, the primacy of our vision — and the strength of our togetherness.
Together — we are stronger Together — we achieve more Together — we become resilient Together — we build a better Bank Together — we win for Africa Thank you very much
This speech was adapted for online, the Editor.