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AfDB President debates “The US, Africa and the Global economy” on the Kojo Nnamdi Radio Show in Washington


On the heels of the US Treasury Development Impact Honors ceremony in Washington, DC, African Development Bank Group President, Donald Kaberuka, joined a radio debate on “The US, Africa and the Global Economy” on American University Radio (WAMU 88.5FM). He was joined by Lael Brainard, Under Secretary of the US Treasury for International Affairs. Here are some of the program’s highlights.

On the global economy:

Lael Brainard, recently back from the G20 Finance Ministers summit in Moscow: “It’s growth, not austerity, that will create jobs.”

Donald Kaberuka: “The impact of global recession has been muted in Africa – and Africa has to be part of the world’s solution, as a new centre of demand.”

On US President Barack Obama’s June 2013 visit to Africa: 

LB: “Africa is now one of the engines pulling the world economy – US businesses are starting to look at it differently.”

DK: “Growth and trade, not aid, are the keys to US-Africa relations now – we’re asking how to fight poverty through the private sector.”

On Africa’s youthful population:

LB: “It’s clear that the locus of economic opportunity will shift to Africa, with its young population – who needs jobs, jobs, jobs – there, as here, as anywhere.”

DK: “We have to invest in a younger, bigger and more urbanized Africa. The task is to make Africa the next manufacturing power in the world.”

On the Multilateral Development Banks:

LB: “Our US investment has gone up massively – from hundreds of millions 20 years ago, to billions now.”

DK: “MDBs are a good investment – they get results. Just look at the counter-cyclical role the Bank played during the financial crisis, to help minimize the damage.”

Listeners’ questions were wide-ranging, and touched on:

  • The continent’s infrastructure gap, on which LB applauded an “explosion in intra-African regional trade” as new roads and facilities are built, while DK stressed the need for private as well as public funding to carry out this work.
  • Priority actions, with DK saying: “If I could wave a magic wand for inclusive growth, it would be to get the children of poor people into education, and stop the transmission of poverty across generations.”
  • Corruption, with DK bemoaning that “some people are still stuck in their views of an Africa past, not an Africa present.”
  • On the US Power Africa initiative, about which LB said “there can be no fulfillment of Africa’s potential if seven in 10 people have no access to electricity. The private sector must play a role – the General Electrics, and more.” DK explained how the AfDB and USAID are already partners in project identification, in joint work on the Sustainable Energy For All initiative, in the Bank’s Africa Legal Facility which helps countries negotiate natural resource management contracts, and in its risk mitigation schemes to spur the launch of energy investment projects.
  • On Aid for Trade, where both praised the US African Growth and Opportunity Act and all efforts to build the capacity to trade and lift Africans up the value chain. LB praised the AfDB investment in Africa’s largest wind farm at Turkana in Kenya, for its visionary combination of trade, aid and bringing in the private sector. On the Arab Spring, where LB and DK both saw the paramount need for long-term job creation in a complex, fast-moving environment.

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