COVID-19 Crisis: African Leaders Laud AfDB President For Visionary Leadership
By Celestine Okorie
South Africa’s President and African Union chairperson Cyril Ramaphosa and the Nobel peace laureate and former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf have commended Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) for his visionary leadership and bold initiatives to accelerate Africa’s development and to support the continent through the COVID-19 crisis.
President Ramaphosa expressed appreciation for the Bank’s commitment of US$26 million for the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, its support in the procurement of critical medical supplies in Africa, and the financial instruments the Bank has provided to assist member countries through the pandemic.
The AfDB recently launched a US$3 billion “Fight COVID-19” social bond, with bids exceeding US$4.6 billion. It is the largest dollar-denominated social bond ever launched in international capital markets and the largest US dollar benchmark ever issued by the Bank. The Bank also launched a US$10 billion Crisis Response Facility to support Africa and to address the pandemic.
Through these initiatives, the Bank is poised to deploy funds to provide African governments and the private sector with access to financing to reduce the economic and social impacts of COVID-19.
“I commend the AfDB for taking these bold initiatives and for the role played by the AfDB under your leadership during this challenging period,” President Ramaphosa, also the current chair of the African Union, said in a written message of support to Dr. Adesina.
Echoing President Ramaphosa’s statement, President Sirleaf said: “The leaders of Africa, and I dare say the world, have recognized the important changes that you have made in the Bank – reorganization of management and restructuring of Bank operations around the High 5s that represent a response to Africa’s more critical development needs.”
Acknowledging the Bank’s highest ever capital replenishment last year, President Sirleaf added: “Take heart, dear President, knowing that Africa respects your intellect and commitment and is pleased that through your leadership our premier institution has received worldwide acknowledgement and recognition for high-quality performance and impacting results.”
Under Adesina’s leadership, the African Development Bank has centered its mission around its “High 5” development priorities: Light Up and Power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialize Africa, Integrate Africa, and Improve the Quality of Life for the People of Africa.
The Bank’s shareholders in 2019 approved a landmark general capital increase of US$115 billion, the largest in the Bank’s history, increasing its capital base to US$208 billion.