Ghana, for the first time since the inception of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and its allied agencies in 1963, is going to host in Accra the bank’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) from May 23 to 27.
Interestingly, the AGM marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the continental bank.
Launching the forthcoming AGM, the Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, said the mission of the bank was more relevant today than another looking at the current situation in which the global economy finds itself.
Illustrating the situation, he said for example that about 41 African economies had been severely affected by three concurrent crises of rising food prices, rising energy costs and tightening financial conditions, including rising inflation, said to have recorded a decade high of 6.0 per cent in February.
Mr Ofori Atta said the unbridled inflation had caused many central banks to signal increases in interest rates, inevitably leading to higher debt servicing costs, and that the number of people experiencing hunger on the continent had increased by 46 million.
A digital report prepared by the African Union Commission, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the UN Economic Commission for Africaand posted online on December 14, 2021 has it that in 2020, undernourished Africans were 281.6 million, an increase of 89.1 million over the 2014 figure.
This can be said to support the position that the hunger level on the continent keeps rising.
In fact, it is recorded elsewhere that 21 per cent of the 1.3 billion Africans suffer hunger and it is fortunate that the continent is recovering from the devastation of COVID-19 otherwise the situation would have been more sorrowful.
The Ghanaian Times agrees with the Finance Minister that the spread and scope of Africa’s challenges requires collective and coordinated action at the regional level for solution.
That is to say that the various organisations and institutions specifically put in place to seek the welfare and wellbeing of Africa should play their specific role with all seriousness to meet the varied needs of the continent to ensure its development and progress for its people to wean themselves from poverty, disease and squalor.
One institution on the continent that has an onerous task to perform in the circumstances is the AfDB.
The continent’s premier development finance institution, headquartered in Côte d’Ivoire has as its mission to help reduce poverty, improve living conditions for Africans and mobilise resources for the continent’s economic and social development.
A report posted online on Dec 8, 2021 states that on the average, the proportion of African households with a consumption level below the $1.9$ per day poverty line was 34 per cent in 2019; below $3.2 was 59 per cent; and at below $5.5 was 80 per cent.
Bringing the calculations home to the various countries, the figures would fall, taking the minimum wages in the various countries as the basis.
For instance, in Ghana the minimum wage is currently GH¢13.53 and this converts into $1.78, using an exchange rate of GH¢7.60 to a dollar.
The AfDB is doing its bit but needs to be highly futuristic and strategise to stem the pangs of poverty on the continent.
This is not to say that the burden is on the continental bank alone.
African governments have shirked their responsibilities to their peoples for quite a long time, making them poor and lack the opportunities to improve their lot.
It is time to change the status quo, which is why it is important to give particular attention to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s call to African countries to give AfDB greater support to make it able to support the development of the continent instead of resorting to global financial institutions like the World Bank.
Truly, AfDB has deeper understanding of African issues and therefore can lead in financing Africa’s development better.