African Development Bank (AfDB) President, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, has revealed that the bank has assisted more than 30 African countries to produce $12bn worth of food, insisting that the bank’s $25bn objective is “well on track”.
“As far as I’m concerned, we shouldn’t be talking about food security in Africa more than five years from now. There’s no reason for it,” he told Reuters. “We have the technology and the financing to do it at scale.”
Russia’s war with Ukraine, one of the world’s top grain exporters, has sent tremors through global grain markets, disrupting food supplies for some of the most fragile nations, including many in Africa.
The emergence of the El Niño weather pattern and the breakdown of an agreement to transport Ukrainian food through the Black Sea have added to global woes on food security.
Adesina, speaking on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meetings in New York, on Friday pointed to the uptake of special agro industrial processing zones, which in Nigeria alone could expand from covering eight states to 35 after a recent request. Those zones are rural areas targeted for infrastructure investment that allow for food and agribusiness companies to move in.
“Twenty-seven more states in Nigeria made a request to us to continue to support them in this particular area,” Adesina said.
The AfDB says under-nutrition and stunting impact 216 million children in Africa and poor nutrition is linked to nearly half of the continent’s child deaths pegging the economic cost of bad nutrition at 11 per cent of the continent’s GDP.
Adesina said he expects the International Monetary Fund board to advance plans to channel $100bn in lending to vulnerable countries via multilateral development banks before governments convene in late November for global climate talks in Dubai.
“This is the way for us to crack how to get more resources, at scale,” he said. “For the African Development Bank, a $20bn allocation channeled into us, automatically becomes up to $80bn for Africa,” Adesina said, pointing to the bank’s three-to-four-times leverage capacity.
Adesina did not give details on the status of a hybrid note for which investor calls kicked off earlier this month with what he said was a “very optimistic response”.
S&P Global, which rated the notes AA-minus compared to the bank’s AAA rating, said it expects the issuance to be between $250m and $1bn “subject to market conditions.”
Adesina said pricing of the note will be “very, very soon”.
Without giving an amount, Adesina said there is a need for recapitalising the bank after the last round in 2019 and looking to eventually become a $100bn lender. Its lending portfolio closed 2022 at $27.5bn.
“The ambition is there with our shareholders. Now we’ve got to make sure that we just work this out and see where there’s a comfort zone for everybody.”