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African unity and solidarity at the heart of Africa Day

“We all have an interest in supporting Africa, the continent of the future.” – Akinwumi Adesina

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Africa Day is celebrated each year on May 25 to commemorate the signature of the founding agreements of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which was formed in Addis Ababa on May 25, 1963 and later succeeded by the African Union.

This year, Africa Day coincides with Day 4 of the 52nd Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank (AfDB) – the emblematic Pan-African institution, which was formed barely a year after the OAU. The Bank meetings are taking place in Ahmedabad, India, May 22-26, 2017.

The goal of Africa Day is to “bring together the people of Africa, reaffirm their faith in integration and popularise the ideal of a united continent”. This message was also reflected in the speech of Bank Group President Akinwumi Adesina at the official opening ceremony of the institution’s 2017 Annual Meetings.

The Bank’s 2017 meetings are being held in Asia, and hosted by India, but Africa is very much in the spotlight, with African fashion, culture and music on the menu. This week, Nollywood actresses Oboli Omoni and Omotola Jalade Ekeinde exchanged with their counterparts from Bollywood; designers Alphadi from Niger and Pathé'o from Côte d’Ivoire wowed the crowd with an evening fashion show; and Cameroonian singer-songwriter Richard Bona entertained alongside Lokua Kanza of the Democratic Republic of Congo/Rwanda.

“Africa is the place to be,” Adesina said. “Despite challenging times occasioned by the global economic recession, Africa continues to post resilient growth. Growth will pick up from 2.2% last year to 3.4% this year. These averages hide exceptional growth performance of many countries.”

In 2016, 12 African countries grew at over 5% and 20 countries grew by 3-5%. “Africa’s head is above waters in rising waters of global recession,” said Adesina. “Africa is resilient. But we must move quickly to unlock greater growth rates that will substantially drive down poverty and support faster diversification of the economies.”

According to the Bank’s Financial Report, released Wednesday in Ahmedabad, Africa maintained its position as the world’s second-fastest growing economies behind South Asia in 2016.

The report said African economies would improve further to average 3.4% growth in 2017 and 4.3% in 2018, driven largely by growing domestic demand and good performing countries.

“Let’s move forward to a greater Africa,” Adesina said Tuesday. “Let’s together accelerate Africa’s development. Africa’s greater future is for the bold. Yes, we have challenges, but we will overcome them.”

25 May, Africa Day, AM 2017

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