The African Development Bank (AfDB) has committed to support African countries achieve deeper regional integration by investing heavily in regional infrastructure development, industrialisation and trade.
The commitment was made on Monday by the Bank’s President, Akinwumi Adesina, in a news conference held in the Equatorial Guinean capital Malabo, ahead of the 54th AfDB Annual Meetings.
“Massive investments in regional infrastructure, industrialization and trade remain our key priorities towards stronger and deeper regional and Africa integration,” he said.
Equatorial Guinea hosts the bank's 2019 annual meetings from June 11-14, under the theme: “Regional Integration for Africa’s Economic Prosperity.”
Adesina said that the bank strongly believes that regional integration is key to build competitive, diversified and sustainable economies in global trade and investment.
He added: “If there is regional integration, Africa would become competitive, industrialize better, and be able to create massive amount of jobs for youth.”
“AfDB is investing heavily in infrastructure-roads, power transmission lines, pipelines and communications networks, private sector development and industrialization,” emphasised Adesina.
He called on African countries to ensure that integration is people-centred, with stronger citizens’ partnerships, especially among Africa’s youth population, private sector players and civil society organizations.
AfDB President noted that since the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) has managed to gather the minimum required ratifications, it’s time to ensure that it is operational.
“Europe’s regional integration is at 70 percent, Asia’s at 60 percent, Africa is at 18 percent and with 16 landlocked countries, Africa won’t grow without integration,” said Adesina.
The five-day event is expected to convene close to 3,000 participants from across Africa and beyond including, African heads of state and government, finance ministers, central bank governors, policy makers, civil society organisations, development partners and captains of industry from the Bank Group's 80 Member States.
A high-level presidential dialogue on boosting Africa's economic integration will feature at the meetings and expected to provide Heads of States an opportunity to discuss challenges and corrective measures to fast-track regional integration, according to annual meetings’ organizers.