Speaking on the first day of AIF, the African Development Bank (AfDB) President Akinwumi Adesina called on all those with the best interest of Africa at heart to “grab the chance" and change the narrative of Africa from being the "museum of poverty" to prosperity.
Addressing delegates at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, Adesina said:
“We must fast-track Agenda 2063 to deliver as one. We are impatient to get there.”
He made the appeal in the opening plenary which featured heads of leading development finance Institutions and forum partners including Patrick Dlamini, CEO of Development Bank of Southern Africa; Prof Benedict Oramah, President of the Africa Export-Import Bank, Dr Bandar Hajjar, President of Islamic Development Bank, Admassu Tadesse, President of Trade and Development Bank, Alain Ebobisse, CEO of Africa 50 and Mallam Zubairu, CEO of Africa Finance Corporation.
In his speech to officially open the forum, Premier of Gauteng Province David Makhura referred to the AIF as ‘historic and the ‘first of its kind'.
"We want the 21st century to be the African century," he told delegates.
“This is not an event. It is a platform where governments, private sector, investors, and project promoters come together. We develop quality bankable projects, de-risk them and actually make sure it happens,” Adesina added.
The AIF is part of a much bigger drive by the AfDB to tap into the vast pool of global capital to fund its ambitious plan to transform Africa.
The Bank estimates the continent needs between USD130 billion and USD170 billion a year to fund its critical development needs.
Due to tightening budgets, traditional funding sources such as national governments and development institutions alone are unable to meet Africa's capital needs, hence the AIF platform.
Global institutional investors and asset owners control USD 131 trillion 'Aasset Under Management' of which Adesina said, even one percent would be sufficient to close the infrastructure financing gap, estimated at between USD68 to USD108 billion.
Panel members shared their vision and perspectives on investments in Africa and stressed the urgent need to transition to a new way of working together.
The inaugural AIF which kicked off yesterday comes to an end tomorrow.