An international effort to power Africa

Share |

Powerful alliances were made Monday when the President of the United States, Barack Obama, and the President of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, shook hands, sealing a commitment to continue to work together to propel Africa to new level of energy sufficiency. The leaders bonded over their mutual desire to see the continent move from darkness to light during a luncheon for heads of state given by the United Nations Secretary General.

President Obama’s Power Africa initiative is already working to double access to electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa, a region where more than 600 million people lack power. With President Adesina’s ascension to head of the AfDB, bringing all of Africa’s 54 nations fully online is now priority number one. Adesina’s “New Deal on Energy for Africa” is the landmark, five-point plan he laid out to get that done.

“Africa has today over $82 trillion in discovered natural resources,” Adesina said. “We must add value to these resources so the wealth will stay on our continent.” The only way that will happen, he said, is through industrialization powered by reliable sources of energy.

It is a mission Adesina has been talking a lot about this week, the 70th meeting of the United Nation’s General Assembly (UNGA).

Another major achievement Monday, agreement with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) CEO, Dana Hyde, to launch a second generation of energy focused compacts. MCC is a US initiative to support energy policy reform in eligible African nations including Ghana, Benin and Liberia. During phase two, the AfDB would further compliment MCC by helping more nations achieve eligibility, find ways to break institutional regulatory barriers, and manage risk to help unleash private sector investment.

The resource of energy was also topic at “Assessing Progress in Africa Toward the Millennium Development Goals,” a side event sponsored in part by the AfDB, African Union (AU), Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), and the United Nation’s Development Program (UNDP). The conference also looked at ways to use the newly launched Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to make more breakthroughs in economic growth, set up social safety nets, and increase education, gender equality and access to health care.

Participants including Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Angel Gurría, Secretary General of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, Assistant Administrator and Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa, and President Adesina shared their visions for a brighter and stronger future for the continent.

Adesina also held bilateral meetings with the heads of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the Canadian Minister of International Development, the CEO of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development and others.

Before returning to AfDB headquarters in Abidjan, Adesina is scheduled to head to Washington, DC to continue drumming up support, resources and partnerships to make his goal of powering all of Africa by 2030 a reality.