Adesina Akinwumi, the president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), says the continental lender will finance up to $10 billion for agricultural development and food sovereignty in Africa. Akinwumi announced the development on Wednesday, January 25 at the ongoing Africa Food summit in Dakar, Senegal. “Africa can and should contribute to feeding the world. The potential is great, but no one is eating it. It is time for the continent to be supported to help feed the world. The AfDB will commit US$10 billion to Africa over the next few years,” he said. The funding, expected to cover the next five years, would be based on direct support in the delivery of agricultural and food inputs. “The time for action has come,” Akinwumi told a packed audience including some 20 heads of state and government who are participating along with other actors in the financial and agricultural sectors. “The time has come for sovereignty and resilience for Africa. What Africa does in agriculture will determine what the world eats. The rest of the world will support Africa to help Africa achieve its goals,” he said. For Adesina, the Dakar summit must consecrate “a new beginning towards a new destination.” The summit under the theme ‘Feed Africa: Food sovereignty and resilience’, comes amid supply chain disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, as well as Russia-Ukraine crisis. While presiding over the summit, Senegal President Macky Sall, who is also the African Union chairperson, said the time had come for the continent to feed itself by adding value and stepping up the use of technology. “From the farm to the plate, we need full food sovereignty, and we must increase land under cultivation and market access to enhance cross-border trade.” The chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, cited similar sentiments, pointing out that the summit was timely and would provide innovative solutions to help Africa become less dependent on food imports. “Food sovereignty should be our new weapon of freedom,” Mahamat told the gathering. He urged development partners to work together within existing structures, such as Agenda 2063 and the African Continental Free Trade Area, for sustainable transformation. Mahamat commended the AfDB for rolling out transformative initiatives, including a $1.5 billion emergency food production facility in 2022 to help African countries avert a potential food crisis following the Russia-Ukraine crisis. Raising the bar Kenya’s President William Ruto said, “It is a shame that 60 years after independence, we are gathered to talk about feeding ourselves. We can and we must do better.” “We must raise the bar. We must raise our ambition. We must arise and say to ourselves, it is time to feed Africa. The timing is right, and the moment is now. Feed Africa; we must,” he added. For President Higgins of Ireland, Africa’s young population accounts for about 20 per cent of the world’s young people, the continent has great potential. He said the rest of the world will look up to it in the future. “Let us make this century Africa’s Century, one which will see the continent become free from hunger,” Higgins said. In his message to the summit, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres acknowledged that Africa was currently facing the challenges of climate change and food insecurity, as the Russia-Ukraine war had caused the price of fertilisers to shoot up and made their supply difficult. He pledged the UN’s support to help Africa become a global food powerhouse. During the three-day summit, private sector players are expected to commit to national food and agriculture delivery compacts, to drive policies, create structural reforms, and attract private sector investment. Central bank governors and finance ministers are expected to develop financing arrangements to implement the food and agriculture delivery compacts, in conjunction with agriculture ministers, private sector players, commercial banks, financial institutions, and multilateral partners and organisations.