For three days last week, African Development Bank (AfDB) President Akinwumi Adesina brought Africa to the Americas and the AfDB’s new vision for Africa to Canada.
Co-chairing the 22nd International Economic Forum of the Americas - Conference of Montreal, which was held in Montreal, Canada from June 13 – 16, Mr. Adesina delivered impassioned speeches that touched on issues ranging from Africa's huge and largely untapped potential for renewable energy; climate change and fragility; women's financial empowerment; youth employment; and the migration crisis in Europe.
On the sidelines of the conference, Adesina held bilateral meetings with the Premier of Quebec, Philippe Couillard, to whom he outlined the Bank's High 5 priorities – Light up and power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialize Africa, Integrate Africa, and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa. He also called for increased cooperation and investment in Africa, particularly in the areas of energy and agro-business. He also called on both the public and private sector to invest in Africa.
Giving his view on terrorism and lamenting the number of young Africans risking, and losing, their lives in the quest for a better life in Europe, Mr. Adesina said: "Nobody wants to be poor. If you look at the confluence of factors – environmental degradation, high levels of joblessness and poverty – quite honestly, idle hands are the devil's workshop. So it's very easy for terrorists to move around rural areas in Africa, which have become zones of economic misery because there are no more economic opportunities left. If you do some mapping and look at where the terrorists are recruiting, you see that is where you have environmental degradation and poverty."
He added that it was with the aim of reducing the risks of migration or terrorism that the African Development Bank has launched the ‘Jobs for Youth in Africa’ initiative that will help keep young Africans at home, and create 25 million jobs and train 32 million young people over the next decade.