Africa Must End Poverty To Earn Global Respect – Adesina

The President, African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwumi Adesina has stated that Africa will not earn respect globally until poverty at scale is brought to an end. 

Adesina stated this on Tuesday, in Lagos at the 40th anniversary lecture of The Guardian and the public presentation of the Guardian Federalist Papers titled, ‘Federalism is the Answer.’

Speaking on the topic of the lecture, ‘For the World to Respect Africa,’ Adesina said for way too long, Africa has allowed poverty to linger pervasively in the midst of plenty.

According to him, poverty is abnormal, especially when resources are vast and when it has been pervasive for so long.

He said Africa should not become a museum of poverty, adding that to reverse this trend, there must be a public accountability component.

Expressing disappointment in the continent’s current state,  Adesina said poverty must not become the comparative advantage of Africa, despite housing half of the world’s gold and one-third of all the minerals in the world.

‘Our governments must realise that it is their responsibility to lift all their people out of poverty and into wealth as fast as possible.

‘It is doable. We have seen clear examples of such progress in other regions of the world, especially in Asia over the past three decades.

‘There is no reason why acute poverty cannot be eradicated in Nigeria and across Africa. We have to become a continent that grows inclusive and well distributed wealth.’

Using South Korea as an example, Adesina said the country moved from GDP per capita that was $350 in the 1960s when it got independence, to approximately $33,000 in 2023. This, he said, is the kind of quantum leap that Africa needs, rather than attempting to alleviate poverty.

‘We must really ask ourselves, when will we make the shift that South Korea made from being a country that was one at the low end of the development ladder to a rich, industrialised nation that it is today?

‘We simply must turn the tide. Ultimately, we must put ourselves in a position where we also can give. that is how Africa will earn respect,’ Adesina said.

Speaking on resources, Adesina said there was something fundamentally wrong in the management of natural resources.

He noted that if natural resources continued to be mismanaged, Africa would remain stuck.

“Consequently, in the midst of plenty, majority of people remain poor. I have urged African governments to stop securing loans backed by their natural resources.

“That is because those natural resource backed loans are not transparent. They are expensive and make debt resolution very difficult.”

The AfDB president said the resources of a country do not belong in the pockets of powerful and rich individuals but for the benefit of the people of that country.

Adesina also said Africa would get respect when it was able to feed itself, adding that a nation or region that begged for food was free only in words but dependent on others for life.

On his part, feeding 9.5 billion people in the world by 2050 would be a big challenge given climate change and a limited amount of cultivated arable land.

He said Africa would play a critical role in this because the continent had 65 percent of the remaining uncultivated arable land in the world.

Adesina said that the continent would earn respect when it deepened good governance and the rule of law.

Africa Today News, New York

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