The African Development Bank and the Mo Ibrahim Foundation have long had a close affinity and a natural alliance based on shared interests and complementary objectives. These qualities showed clearly at the 10th Mo Ibrahim Governance Weekend in Marrakech, Morocco, where the President spent a productive working weekend in the company of well-known personalities from African politics, commerce, investment and finance.
The Weekend opened on Friday, April 7 with a welcome message from King Mohammed VI of Morocco, which stressed the enduring importance of the values of governance and transparency in a fast-changing world. In a brief statement afterwards, Mo Ibrahim stressed that sustainable development was not possible without good governance.
President Adesina participated in several sessions on Saturday, including “Africa at a Tipping Point”, “The Appeal of Violent Extremism and Migrations” and “The Rise of a Democratic Recession”. He also took a front-row seat during a conversation between Mo Ibrahim and Kofi Annan and made observations as an expert panelist on the final session, “The Need for Inclusive Economic Growth and Jobs for Africa’s Youth”. Other panelists in the inclusive economic growth session included former Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigerian industrialist Aliko Dangote, and the Moroccan Minister of Industry, Trade, Investment and Digital Economy, Moulay Hafid El Alamy.
When asked what his advice would be to the continent’s governments, Adesina stressed the importance of electricity. It was the Bank’s first High 5 objective, and he could not think of anything more urgent then to make power generally accessible to all living in Africa. “Without power you can’t start or run a business, you can’t teach, learn, or do anything productive,” he said. “We need to switch on the lights and power up Africa as a priority”, he added, drawing attention to the importance of modernising agriculture to align it closer to industry and manufacturing.
Adesina also emphasised the importance of gender equality in economic development: “A bird flies with two wings,” he said. “In the same way sustainable development cannot fly without complete gender equality.” He also described the Bank’s rollout of a loan risk guarantee scheme for farmers based on the successful policy that had been implemented when he was the Minister of Agriculture in Nigeria.
Finally, summing up a spirited discussion among the panelists about regional trade within the continent, the President said that he was proud to be the holder of the African Union’s African passport, but that it was no good limiting them just to politicians and VIPs. He thought that every African should be issued one, and that getting rid of national visa requirements across the continent would be a major step toward the promotion of regional trade on the continent.
Adesina also made time for interviews with local and international media, responding to questions on the relationship between governance and economic development, and improving employment prospects for the continent’s youth.
The President answered questions on commodity reliance and the funding of climate change in Africa, where he called for developed countries to pay Africa’s premiums for the Green Climate Fund.