Can the African Development Bank help in bringing 50 million people out of poverty?

Donald kaberuka - Chief of African Development Bank

22 May 2012

And by the sweat of our brows shall we eat - and not by the hands of donors

Top of the agenda at the G8 summit of world leaders held in the USA, is the thorny issue of Africa’s food crisis, and the emergence of a plethora of initiatives designed to help poor countries grow more food for domestic consumption.

But investment in food farming – per capita, in Africa remains appallingly low.

Productivity and production yield continues to be hampered by illiteracy, low farming skills, insufficient seed crops and poor soil management.   

The special session which focused on agriculture policy in Africa and in particular – a fresh initiative called – the ‘New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition’, was hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama at Camp David near Washington.

Participants included the G8 leaders, four African heads of state and executives from the private sector.

Donald kaberuka - Chief of African Development Bank

“With so much for the G8 leaders to discuss,” said AfDB President Kaberuka, “I commend President Obama for putting agriculture investment in Africa on the agenda.”

One of the main objectives of the new initiative is to encourage the private sector to invest more in the continent’s agriculture sector.

Indeed President Obama has announced that more than $3 billion has already been pledged in private sector investments. African and G8 governments will also commit funds to spur growth.

“This is a win-win proposition,” said Kaberuka. “A prosperous, growing Africa is good for the global economy.”

He went on to say: “This is a collective endeavour involving governments, the private sector and public investment to spur economic growth on the continent.

The African Development Bank is ready to play its part by ensuring conditions such as reliable infrastructure are in place.”

In a statement released on the eve of the Camp David meeting, the White House said that it would work with the people and leaders of Africa to “Increase responsible domestic and foreign private investments in African agriculture, take innovations that can enhance agricultural productivity to scale, and reduce the risk borne by vulnerable economies and communities.”

The White House statement went on to welcome the support of the African Development Bank and other development agencies.

In the last few days there has been an intense focus on ways to encourage greater innovation and private sector investment in the agriculture sector across Africa.

The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition was launched at a symposium in Washington on Friday, bringing hundreds of individuals and organizations together to discuss the way forward.

In a nod to the high-level support for the initiative, speakers at the symposium included President Obama, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the leaders of Benin, Ethiopia, Ghana and Tanzania, and AfDB President, Donald Kaberuka.

They spoke about the opportunities that exist in Africa and the yields that greater agricultural output could bring, not just in the food sector.

“This is not only a moral imperative, but an economic and security imperative as well,” said President Obama.

He added that the overall goal is to bring 50 million people out of poverty. This, he said, would improve lives, economies and security around the world.

AfDB President Kaberuka told the audience that although African agriculture has underperformed for many years, that’s beginning to change as many governments put market policies and conditions in place.”

Through improved infrastructure, transportation and trade, Africa can make significant headway, he said.

The African Development Bank Group’s mission is to help reduce poverty, improve living conditions for Africans and mobilize resources for the continent’s economic and social development.

Current and future projects and priorities will be discussed at the organization’s Annual Meetings in Arusha, Tanzania from May 28th to June 1st.

The theme of the meetings will be “Africa and the Emerging Global Landscape: Challenges and Opportunities.”

The Chief of the African Development Bank spoke to CNN. Please click below to view:

http://edition.cnn.com/video/#/video/business/2012/05/21/exp-defterios-interview-kaberuka.cnn?iref=allsearch

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