THE NEWS SEEN BY. Every Saturday, Jeune Afrique invites a personality to decipher current issues. Climate, resilience, agriculture and financing, the President of the African Development Bank delivers his look at the latest news from the continent.
The President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) tour of “Old Europe” largely set the tone for his second term. “To be everywhere where the cause of Africa must be pleaded”, explains Akinwumi Adesina, returning from the International Conference on Climate Change (COP26) in Glasgow. He who had already arrived in Rome at the beginning of October, where he issued a ” keynote In the Italian Senate in front of the representatives of the G20 countries.
Stayed in the same Parisian hotel as the American vice-president, Kamala Harris, with whom he must go the same evening to a reception at the Élysée, at the invitation of the French president, he prepares his speech the next day for the Forum of Paris on peace.
Between two meetings, and the signing of an agreement with his counterpart from the French Development Agency (AFD), Rémy Rioux, the former Nigerian Minister of Agriculture (2011-2015) exhibited at Young Africa the concerns of the institution he heads and his vision of the hot topics of the moment for Africa.
Jeune Afrique: After spending ten days in Glasgow, attending a number of meetings during the COP and bilateral meetings with African leaders, do you consider that this edition has fulfilled its mission?
Akinwumi Adesina: What is certain is that I do not view things as a failure. We are talking about a complicated situation. I think in Glasgow there has been a realization that African countries, developing countries and island nations are suffering a massive impact from climate change, and that is the one to prioritize. . And that’s good news.
Africa, highly exposed to drought, hot weather and flooding, is now losing between $ 7 and $ 15 billion per year [selon les données des Nations unies] because of climate change. However, we do not have the necessary resources to cope. COP26 has therefore enabled these countries to express their needs, which are, I would remind you, more than 30 billion dollars per year, just for the continent.
It is adaptation that Africa needs and we must free up the necessary resources for it.
What do you think are the main lessons for Africa?
First, and as the last report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) underlines, we are in a danger zone! Africa will undergo a stronger warming and before the others.
Then, the focus that has been made on adaptation is important. It is adaptation that Africa needs and the necessary resources must be made available for that. However, developing countries cannot adapt and achieve their energy transition without the 100 billion dollars promised in 2009 by developed countries.
This promise was not kept, however …
Even if the fulfillment of this promise has been postponed for three years compared to 2020, that does not change anything fundamentally. For our part, we have continued to work in Africa to try to mobilize the essential resources. We launched the Acceleration of Adaptation for Africa (AAAP) program, notably at the initiative of the African Union and the AfDB. As such, the bank will mobilize an additional $ 25 billion for adaptation in Africa.
In fact, many promises have been made, especially on the side of international donors. Where are the real advances?
I find the announcements made in Glasgow which relate directly to Africa to be satisfactory. Some states in particular have provided significant support. For example, the British government – host of the COP – offered a new guarantee mechanism to the ADB. This mechanism is expected to unlock up to $ 2 billion in new funding for projects on the continent, half of which will help countries adapt to the effects of climate change.
Projects such as “desert to power”, initiated to develop solar power in Sahelian countries and provide access to electricity to 250 million people, were put back at the heart of the discussions. The Green Climate Fund pledged $ 150 million, the Rockefeller Foundation signed a $ 100 million pledge, the French Development Agency pledged $ 100 million, the Swedish government announced $ 28 million dollars …
The resources mobilized on this project are very concrete for us.
On the subject of desertification, you are actively participating in the Great Green Wall project. Brought up to date by President Macron last January, it was the subject of a mini-summit on the sidelines of the COP. Is it likely to see the light of day?
The Great Green Wall (GMV) project directly addresses what I call the triangle of disasters: structural and high poverty, youth unemployment, and degradation of climate and environments. A triangle that almost always calls for conflict.
At the same time, it will be necessary to guarantee access to energy for the populations, otherwise the Great Green Wall will become a simple wall of coal.
This corridor of trees, meadows, vegetation and plants 8000 km long and 15 km wide, must constitute a bulwark against insecurity, guarantee a more resilient climate and prevent migration to Europe.
But at the same time, it will be necessary to guarantee access to energy for the populations, with a project such as “desert to power”, otherwise the GMV will become a simple wall of coal! Without access to energy, the populations would indeed have to cut down trees to use them for firewood …
You also plead for a modernized agriculture which will be the engine of the transformation of economies in Africa. After a year of recession in 2020, linked to Covid-19, does the sector still have a card to play?
The recovery of African economies must be done in an inclusive manner for low-income populations, and inclusive for rural areas. And it is agriculture that must be at the center of this. But, indeed, as I have often said, agriculture needs to be modernized. Agriculture is a business, and the biggest business in Africa.
By 2030, agriculture and agribusiness will represent $ 1 trillion in Africa. This means that, properly managed, the sector should empower the continent to diversify its economies, create jobs and transform rural areas into poles of prosperity.
What are the levers to achieve this?
Agriculture more resilient in the face of drought, heat, pests that devastate African cultures, to name just one example. With the TAAT (Technology for the Transformation of Agriculture) program, launched five years ago by the AfDB for example, more than 11 million farmers in 29 African countries have benefited from technologies such as corn resistant to drought or heat resistant wheat.
At the last United Nations Food Systems Summit, heads of state decided to create a facility for food security and nutrition in Africa. Discussed again in Glasgow, and it was renamed “mission 1 for 200”, it intends, for 1 billion dollars spent, to get 200 million Africans out of famine.
This facility will allow the deployment of resilient agriculture to 40 million farmers, double the productivity of nine most important food crops in Africa and produce 100 million tonnes of food products. Enough to feed 200 million people.
In Africa today, 283 million people suffer from famine. Thanks to this facility, we are able to reduce this figure by 80%.