Representatives of Nigeria’s Diaspora, national networks, and youth and women groups have hailed the African Development Bank for supporting transformational projects in the country and across Africa.
The African Development Bank forum, which took place in early August, is part of the institution’s ongoing mid-term review of its country strategy for Nigeria. Over two days, more than 200 participants received updates on the bank’s work in Nigeria. They discussed projects in agriculture, on the digital economy, the creative industry, trade and private enterprise.
Opening the forum, the African Development Bank’s Director General for Nigeria, Mr. Lamin Barrow, expressed hope that the interactive forum would allow for frank exchanges on the bank activities, projects and programs in Nigeria.
Barrow stressed the bank’s commitment to participation by women, youth, the diaspora and other key groups in processes that inform the institution’s initiatives in its regional member countries. “Stakeholder groups play key roles in driving innovation and entrepreneurship to unlock opportunities in various sectors, including agri-business, industry and the digital economy,” he said.
Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, Senior Special Assistant to Nigeria’s President on the Sustainable Development Goals, commended the African Development Bank for its leadership in engaging national and sub-national actors. She said this high-level stakeholder engagement was timely and strategic. “This is the first time we are seeing a multilateral development finance institution do this in the recent past,” Orelope-Adefulire said.
The Chairperson and CEO of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Dr. Abike Dabri-Erewa, thanked the African Development Bank for supporting women and for outreach to the Diaspora but said more could be done. She urged the bank to host more Diaspora-related initiatives, and said the Diaspora Commission looked forward to working more closely with the bank in this area.
The President of the Nigeria Trade and Investment Centre, Canada, Femi Boyede, encouraged members of the Diaspora to consider clustering for project partnership. He said this would have more impact than concentrating on just remittances.
Mr. Omololu Duyile, Managing Director of Riyden Farms, an agribusiness, expressed hope that the African Development Bank would build the capacity of Nigerian entrepreneurs and better connect them to the global market.
Mrs. Lola Visser-Mabogunje, an advisor on stakeholder engagement to the president of the African Development Bank, said the sessions helped increase stakeholders’ awareness and understanding of the bank’s operations in Nigeria and beyond.
Other participants urged the bank to promote the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area and to extend financial support and training more effectively to women, small and medium enterprises and smallholder farmers. They posited that this would enable them to take advantage of the bank’s Special Agriculture Processing Zones (SAPZ) initiative.
The African Development Bank anchors its current Nigeria strategy on two pillars: supporting infrastructure development; and promoting social inclusion through agribusiness and skills development. The bank believes there are numerous opportunities for the youth and women from its financing and non-lending activities.
The bank’s current portfolio in Nigeria comprises 53 operations with a total value of $4.5 billion. This is made up of 30 sovereign operations, with a value of $2.7 billion, and representing 60% of total commitments. In addition, there are 22 non-sovereign operations valued at $1.8 billion.
In terms of mapping to the African Development Bank’s High 5 strategic priorities, projects that will ‘Industrialize Africa’ account for 42% of the portfolio. Projects that will ‘Improve the Quality of Life for the people of Africa’ make up 25% of the portfolio. The other three strategic priorities—’Light up and Power Africa’, ‘Feed Africa’ and ‘Integrate Africa’ represent 14%, 10% and 9%, respectively.