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African countries will need innovative partnerships and a mix of small-scale and big transformational projects to build resilience and overcome fragility, African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina told the Africa Resilience Forum on Tuesday in Abidjan.
Adesina announced that the Bank has created a bottom-up initiative to deliver the Bank’s development priorities – the High 5s –– in 10,000 communities in fragile situations in 1,000 days. “It requires innovative partnerships to scale up existing technologies in these environments. One such technology is present with us here in the room: Abze develops low-cost solar lighting that could be brought to rural communities in fragile situations through a concerted partnership effort,” he told the audience.
The Africa Resilience Forum aims to strengthen partnerships that go beyond aid coordination to effectively build resilience at community, country and regional levels. The Bank’s understanding of fragility has evolved to a universal risk concept where it is considered “a condition of elevated risk of institutional breakdown, societal collapse or violent conflict.”
“Fragility is neither constrained by any geographical setting, nor is it bound by time,” said Adesina. “Countries, therefore, experience varying intensities of fragility and duration, in some cases manifesting as pockets of fragility.”
The Bank’s commitment to building resilience is also reflected in its resource allocation. Since its inception in 2008, the Transition Support Facility has mobilized more than US $3.63 billion (UA 2.7 billion*) in additional resources. The share of these additional concessional resources for fragile situations has steadily increased, most recently from 13% (US $888.60 million or UA 661 million) under the 13th Replenishment of the African Development Fund (ADF-13) to 17% (US $955.82 million or UA 711 million) under the Fund’s 14th Replenishment (ADF-14).
The High 5s are part of the AfDB’s resilience agenda for Africa. Energy remains a critical part of the agenda. It helps fight fragility in the context of large-scale and uncontrolled urbanization. For instance, since 2010, the Kenyan Government has improved the electricity supply in Kibera, the largest slum in Nairobi, as part of a programme that targets the areas of greatest social inequality. “Providing electricity and modern fuels in marginalized areas lowers the risk of internal unrest and reduces the movement of people across borders. This is why the Bank will be investing US $12 billion in the energy sector over the next ten years,” Adesina said.
Agriculture is also part of the solution. Developing agricultural value chains means strengthening relationships between different groups of the society, critically important in fragile situations where trust and social cohesion are low, while overcoming inequalities by connecting different geographical parts of a country. “We know that agricultural value chains work even in the absence of a functioning state, diversifying economies, raising incomes, increasing food security and thereby contributing to mitigating conflict,” he noted. He cited examples of successful value chain projects in fragile situations, ranging from Northern Uganda (cotton), South Sudan (shea nut), Rwanda (coffee) to Somalia (livestock). The Bank will be investing US $24 billion in this sector
The private sector will be one of the key players to drive this agenda. For instance, in spite of Somalia’s central government vacuum, domestic and foreign private sector have found ways to prosper in Somaliland by developing their own business environment, identifying and responding to market needs and gaps. The private sector role becomes ever more important, once countries transition out of fragility, stabilizing the economy and society and creating much-needed jobs, as can be seen in Cote d’Ivoire.
Adesina noted that of Africa’s nearly 420 million youth, one-third are unemployed and discouraged, another third are vulnerably employed, and only one in six is in meaningful wage employment. “It is not possible to imagine a resilient Africa with hundreds of millions of youth unemployed,” he said. “This is why we have launched the Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy that will create 25 million jobs and reach over 50 million Africans by 2025 with a special focus on those in fragile situations.”
*As of January 1, 2017, 1 Unit of Account (UA) = 1.34 USD