AfDB’s Adesina seeks bonds commitment from Africans in diaspora

THE president, African Development Bank Group (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, has made a case for diaspora funds that target developmental projects in Africa.

Akinwunmi emphasised that Africans in the diaspora were critical to Africa’s economic development as they constituted the continent’s largest financiers through remittances.

He stated this at an event, ‘Development Without Borders: Leveraging the African Diaspora for Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development in Africa’, organised by the bank, in collaboration with the African Union Commission, the International Organization for Migration, and the African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat.


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The AfDB president was quoted in a statement the bank issued today to have said at the event, “The value of remittances from the African diaspora doubled from $37 billion in 2010 to $87 billion in 2019, reaching $95.6 billion by 2021. Yet official development assistance to Africa in 2021 was $35 billion, or 36% of the remittances from the diaspora. Egypt and Nigeria are among the top 10 remittance recipients globally, with $31.5 billion and $19.2 billion respectively in 2021.”

Adesina stressed that Africans in the diaspora had become the largest financiers of Africa, with the funds from them not being debts.

“It is 100% gifts or grants, a new form of concessional financing that is the key for livelihood security for millions of Africans,” he explained.

He further noted that while remittances had helped to meet financial, food, education, and health needs, as well as serve as countercyclical sources of finance and social protection, more can be done to tap into these remittances for Africa’s development.

“We must eliminate the Africa-premium charged on remittances, as the cost of remitting funds to Africa is twice what it is for South Asia. We must tap the massive opportunities offered by diaspora bonds,” he said.

He described diaspora bonds as an effective instrument to harness remittances for the development of Africa. But despite its great potential, he added, only four African countries (Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana, and Nigeria) had successfully issued diaspora bonds, often with mixed results.

According to Adesina, the flow of remittances to Africa was high, rising, and stable, while offering huge opportunities to serve as collateral to secure financing for African economies.






     

     

    He urged African countries to securitize remittances to promote investments, especially for infrastructure on the continent, stressing that the diaspora can offer a lot more than remittances and investments.

    He said, “They have skills, knowledge, know-how, exposure to the world of business and investments, science, the arts and technologies that can help boost the human capital for Africa’s development. They can help build world-class universities, and can be mentors for the new generation of Africans.

    “That is why all governments in Africa should prioritize affairs of the diaspora. African countries should establish ministries of the diaspora to give policy priority to the specific needs of the diaspora, as well as expand the investment opportunities for them through special incentives.

    “The diaspora should also be allowed to vote. If they can send money that powers their home economies, they should also help decide the future of the economies of Africa. As Africans in the diaspora, you can look to the African Development Bank to partner with you on this journey to transform Africa.”

     

    Harrison Edeh is a journalist with the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, always determined to drive advocacy for good governance through holding public officials and businesses accountable.

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