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African Development Bank (AfDB) Official dismisses alleged conflict between Adesina, US Govt (By Obinna Chima)

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By Obinna Chima

An official of the African Development Bank (AfDB) has described as false, the insinuation that the United States government is opposed to the re-election of the President of the Bank, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, for a second term. The top official of the Bank who pleaded to remain anonymous, stressed that any attempt to suggest a conflict between the Bank and the United States - its second largest shareholder - are inaccurate and ill intentioned.

In fact, he explained that the AfDB has a very close working relationship with the US Government and several agencies, including the USAID, the Millennium Challenge Program (MCC), the US Department of Commerce, the US Development Finance Corporation, with whom the Bank signed a $5 billion partnership in November 2019, Power Africa and the Corporate Council for Africa.

“The United States was actually in the forefront of providing the Bank with strong support for its 2019 General Capital Increase and the replenishment of its African Development Fund,” he added in a note to THISDAY. He, however, alleged that what the Bank was facing, was one of its Executive Director, who is a US citizen, who has had a personal vendetta against Adesina from the moment he was seconded to the Bank late 2017.

“Adesina has developed a series of strategic relationships and partnerships with US government agencies, without Dowd's direct involvement. “As President of the Bank, Adesina, a consummate and highly effective builder of strategic partnerships, has helped build strong institutional partnerships with several US agencies.

“When he won the World Food Prize in 2017 which was awarded in Des Moine, in the Iowa State Capitol, US Vice President Mike Pence sent a message from himself and on behalf of President Trump. The, letter had stated: “Your devotion to the cause of fighting global hunger is admirable and deeply needed ... your leadership embodies the American virtues of hard work and self-determination.

“From your upbringing in challenging circumstances to your academic training at Purdue University, your life experience and dedication inspires many people around the world.”

Pence had said further: “On behalf of President Donald Trump, I extend my heartfelt congratulations as you receive this important award. The United States is committed to food security, and will continue to work with leaders like you to find innovative ways to end global hunger. Thank you for your commitment and contributions to making the world a better place.”

Adesina has received several distinguished awards and Honorary Doctorates from Franklin and Marshall College, Michigan State University and Purdue University. At Purdue University, the President of the university, Mr. Mitch Daniels, a former governor of Indiana, had conferred on Adesina the prestigious “Order of the Griffin” the highest award the university can award to anyone.

The AfDB boss joined a stellar group of only 50 people since the 1890s, to have been conferred with the award. Other recipients included Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. As the head of Africa's largest development finance institution, Adesina's strategic input and insights are highly sought after by US agencies and institutions.

As a strong pro-Africa advocate, he has consistently insisted that partnerships must serve Africa’s best interests, while fostering long term business engagements and development.

Also, he had signed a landmark $5 billion agreement with Adam Boehler, the CEO of the US Development Finance Corporation on the margins of the Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa in November 2019.

Similarly, the US Deputy Secretary of Commerce, Karen Dunn Kelly, led a high level delegation to the Africa Investment Forum and met with Adesina, along with heads of major US agencies, including the United States Agency for International Development, United States Trade and Development Agency, Prosper Africa, and Power Africa (with which the Bank has a long standing partnership on energy), Prosper Africa, among others.

In a letter commending Adesina for his leadership, Kelly had said: “let me congratulate you on the success of the second Africa Investment Forum. I understand that 56 board room deals, valued at $67.6 billion, were tabled - a 44 per cent increase from last year. This is proof that, as you said yourself, “Africa is winning. Africa is bankable!”.

“Adesina has continued to urge the US to have a more strategic approach to Africa and to move away from a focus on aid to investments. Working closely with the Corporate Council for Africa, he continues to challenge old status quo approaches to development, and instead the favour the establishment of mutually beneficial deals for Africa and the United States.

“Adesina has been and continues to be a force for good and a breadth of fresh air in Africa's development landscape. He is endowed with incredible insights, and an amazing ability to lead out-of-the-box innovative ideas. His outstanding achievements are globally recognised at the highest levels of the US Government and corporate America.

“The bottom line is that Mr. Stephen Dowd and his allies are not speaking for America. America knows Adesina and Adesina knows America,” the source alleged.

Since he assumed the position of the President, the AfDB has connected 16 million people to electricity, provided 70 million people with improved agricultural technologies to achieve food security, given nine million people access to finance from private sector companies, provided 55 million people with access to improved transport, and 31 million people with access to water and sanitation.

In all 181 million people have directly benefitted from the Bank’s investments.

Adesina is the eight President of the Bank. He was elected to the position on May 28, 2015 by the Bank’s Board of Governors at its Annual Meetings in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

He is the first Nigerian to serve as President of the Bank Group.

During his first term, the Bank’s shareholders approved a landmark $115 billion capital increase last October. The increase in the capital base, from $93 billion to $208 billion, signaled strong support from the Board of Governors in the continent’s foremost financial institution.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Obinna Chima.