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It makes economic sense to invest in women, says AfDB’s president Adesina




PRESIDENT of the Africa Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, says Africa’s economy would grow in leaps and bounds if the same resources invested in men were invested in women.

Adesina, a former Minister of Agriculture in Nigeria, said this during a session on “Investing in Women for Accelerated Growth” at the inaugural edition of the Africa Investment Forum (AIF) which kicked off in Sandton, South Africa, on Thursday.

He said the AfDB has adopted policies that are specifically targeted at making funds available to more women in the continent so as to rejig the economy.

“If the world today has the same resources for women that it has for men, you would be able to increase the GDP of the world by 26 percent. And in the case of Africa, that GDP will go up by an additional 12 percent. So it makes sense, economic sense, to invest in women,” Adesina said.

“That is where the challenge really is, the women don’t have access to finance. If you look at the financing gap that women have, it is roughly anything around $42 billion in terms of financing businesses for women in Africa today.

“Take agriculture, that is probably another $12 billion gap for financing for women.”

“Women, we know, payback on their loans; 98 percent payback on their loan. So, what sense does it make that you are telling me that you are not going to be lending to women that payback 98 percent of their loans?

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“Women pay back their loans, we have to develop new financing instruments that allow us to lend more to women, not based on collateral, because there is nothing better than the collateral of your repayment rate.

“Let us rejig and tune the financial market towards women, and that is why for us at AfDB, everything we do is to make sure that we do that.

“We give quite a lot of financing to women through intermediary financing institutions, and we hold banks accountable to what the do for women.”

Adesina also called for more proactive solutions to the challenge of non-availability of funds for women. One of such solutions, he said, is the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) which seeks “to change the financial system to be able to lend more to women and de-risk lending to women businesses through guarantee facilities.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa declared the AIF open on Thursday; four other African Heads of States attended the opening ceremony namely: Alpha Conde of the Republic of Guinea, Macky Sall of Senegal;  Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana and Sahle-Work Zewde of Ethiopia.

Other top government officials across Africa to grace the event include Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo; prime ministers of Rwanda and Cameroon, Edouard Ngirente and Philémon Yang, as well as ministers representing the Kingdom of Morocco, Cote d’Ivoire, Tanzania, Niger, and Gabon.

The theme of the AIF is “Putting women at the heart of financial systems”.

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