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Africa Day –African leaders express optimism for the Africa we want

Governors, the board, management and staff of the African Development Bank Group—meeting in the Ghanaian capital for its annual meetings this week—devoted much of Wednesday to celebrating Africa Day.

African nations and institutions mark Africa Day annually on 25 May to celebrate the 1963 founding of the erstwhile Organisation of African Unity—today the African Union. The Bank Group held a colourful ceremony during its ongoing annual meetings in honor of Africa Day 2022.

African Development Bank Secretary General Vincent Nmehielle compered the ceremony and set the framework for the celebration. He explained that the Bank was celebrating this day under the African Union’s theme of “The Africa we want.” Nmehielle said Africa must meet the expectations of young Africans.

This year’s Africa Day is comes  at a time when the African continent faces multiple challenges, including  those stemming from climate change like floods and desertification;  health, notably the Covid-19 pandemic and its disruptive effects; security, with internal conflicts and most recently, the consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing  war.

In the context of the many difficulties driving young people to seek prosperity outside Africa, often at the risk of their lives, the President of the African Development Bank invited young Africans to take pride in their continent and to remain in Africa to invest in its development.

Speaking directly to them Adesina said: “I would like to say that, like you, I was born on the right continent, the continent with 65% of the arable land on the planet, with rich soil and forests that play an important role for carbon in the world. You are the strength of the continent, and the future is in Africa! The African Development Bank is working on setting up an investment bank for youth employment. It will give young people more opportunities to train, invest, create jobs for themselves and to achieve on their continent.

“The same goes for women, where the African Development Bank already released $450 million for women entrepreneurs, in 2021. This year, we approved a $500-million funding envelope for women under our Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) initiative.”

The Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Mrs Monique Nsanzabaganwa, stressed that the year 2022 had been placed under the banner of food resilience, under the theme “Strengthening resilience in nutrition and food security on the African continent.”

Nsanzabaganwa said the continent’s core concerns must never be relegated to the background. She highlighted among these concerns, rising prices, unconstitutional changes, health, water and sanitation, and more. She commended the African Development Bank for supporting the implementation of the African Union’s Agenda 2063. She also thanked the Bank Group’s Board of Directors for the expeditiously approved financing of the Institutional Support Facility

The Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in Ghana, Burkina Faso’s Ambassador Pingrenoma Zagré, paid tribute to Ghana’s founding president, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, and to the “founders of the Organisation of African Unity for their vision of development and progress.” He called for the strengthening of the African Continental Free Trade Area to increase intra-African trade. Ambassador Zagré also expressed hope that the African Development Bank mobilize more resources to carry out its projects for the benefit of African countries.

Ghana’s finance minister and current Chair of the African Development Bank Group’s Board of Governors, Kenneth Ofori-Atta, delivered a message of optimism and called on African countries to be ambitious. “We have a young population and by 2050, African will be home to a quarter of the world’s population,” Ofori-Atta said. He urged African countries to build “strong institutions for our own prosperity … and to achieve our goals.” He included among these institutions, the African Continental Free Trade Area, with its executive secretariat in Accra.

The Africa Day celebrations continued with artistic performances and other meaningful contributions from young people ranging from ages 9 to 30s. They shared positive messages full of hope and optimism to all African young people.

Africa Day is customarily held on 25 May each year and marks the creation in 1963 of the Organisation of African Unity—now the African Union. It is a day that Africans dedicate to celebrating the continent and for reflecting especially on solutions to the challenges to the continent’s development. This year’s celebration coincides with the 50th anniversary of the passing of the Ghana’s first president, Dr Kwame Nkrumah.

African Development Bank Group

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