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AfDB tasks African ambassadors on economic diplomacy
The President of the African Development Bank Group, Akinwumi Adesina, has urged African diplomats accredited to the Republic of South Korea to serve as ambassadors of the African Development Bank Group, promote the work of the Bank and garner support for the Bank’s activities in their respective capitals. Africa, he said, can learn very useful lessons from the Republic of Korea which transformed itself from an aid-dependent nation to a donor country in just over three decades. At a similar gathering in Tokyo the previous day, the AfDB President also praised Japan for its long-standing support to the Bank and to Africa through its substantial contributions to the African Development Fund as well as its technical and bilateral funding packages channeled through the Bank.
Adesina spoke at the gathering of the African diplomatic corps and senior executive of private corporations in Tokyo and Seoul on Friday, March 25 and Saturday, March 26, respectively.
In his contribution, the African Development Bank’s Executive Director representing Canada, China, Korea, Kuwait and Turkey, Hau Sing Tse, said that Korea has been very strategic in its development choices and in its support to Africa which has also enabled the country to advance its interests in Africa.
The gatherings were within the context of an ongoing working visit to Japan, South Korea and China from March 24 through March 30, 2016 by a team of senior officials from the AfDB led by the Bank Group President. African diplomats in both countries said the meetings with the AfDB have helped to identify areas where the Bank can make good returns on investment by supporting businesses in their hosts and home countries, respectively. They urged the Bank not to forget the small and medium enterprises that represent over 90% of the private sector in Africa.
In Tokyo, Estifanos Afeworki, the Republic of Eritrea’s Ambassador to Japan and Dean of the African Diplomatic Corps in Japan, said that because of the high rates of investment returns on the continent, African economies should seek ways of boosting the private sector and not rely on official development assistance (ODA).
Meanwhile, in Seoul, the Republic of Angola’s Ambassador to South Korea and Deputy Dean of the African Diplomatic Corps, Albino Malungo, encouraged African nations to emulate Korea’s example. The country became an industrialized nation in just three decades, which is commendable. He urged other African diplomats present at the dinner to invite their leaders to visit Korea to learn and be inspired. He further noted that Africa could lead the post-2015 development agenda and that its countries should diversify their economies, so as to avoid the headwinds from drops in commodity price as they are now facing.
In his welcome remarks, Adesina said that Africa was resilient even in the face of global economic headwinds. Africa’s real GDP grew by 4.4% in 2015, above the 3.4% for the world economy and 2.6% for the USA. President Adesina further reassured guests at the dinner that AfDB had fully relocated to its statutory headquarters in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, and was doing well. He further highlighted that the Bank Group approved projects to the tune of US $9 billion in 2015, almost 25% higher than in the previous year. Adesina noted that the continent still faced several challenges, such as inadequate infrastructure, especially in the energy sector, along with rising unemployment and poverty levels, and so support was still needed from its partners in order to tackle these challenges.