Swiss ambassadors meeting in the Ivorian commercial capital Abidjan invited a senior management team from the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) to exchange views on development and cooperation
The Bank team met Swiss ambassadors stationed across the West Africa subregion for a vibrant discussion on current issues affecting Africa broadly, and the region especially. When asked whether Africa's growing population was a dividend or challenge, Urama gave a swift response. “Whether it is a challenge or a dividend depends on the country. Africa’s economies are currently labour intensive due to low levels of technology inputs,” noted AfDB's acting chief economist Kevin Urama. "Africa’s youth population are innovation enthusiasts and can drive innovations to boost productivity and growth across countries, but where there is no capital to support their innovations, they become orphaned and less productive including the youth in key sectors such as agriculture, energy, governance of countries could help countries harness their demographic dividend,” he added.
Pointing out the success of AfDB projects involving women and agriculture, Joseph Ribeiro, deputy director-general for West Africa mentioned the US$178mn that had been allocated by the Bank to build food resilience and fight against malnutrition in the phase 2 of the P2RS programme (programme to build resilience to food and nutrition insecurity in the Sahel). On the energy front however, Daniel Schroth, director for renewable energy and energy efficiency mentioned that Africa did not seem to appear to be on track to meet the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number seven on universal energy access.
“In view of the critical role of energy for development at large, the African Development Bank placed energy at the top of its agenda for the continent,” Schroth said. He also spoke about one of the Bank’s key initiatives, Desert to Power, covering the 11 countries of the Sahel. He said, “We are working with the governments in these countries on roadmaps and an initial set of priority projects to seize the region’s solar potential, but a lot of capital is required to realise the objectives of the initiative.”
Anne Lugon-Moulin, Ambassador of Switzerland to Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, underscored Switzerland’s positive relations withAfDB as the continent’s premier development institution. Switzerland is the 11th largest shareholder in the African Development Fund. Laura Rutishauser, senior advisor to the executive director for Germany, Luxembourg, Portugal and Switzerland said the AfDB was a priority multilateral institution for Switzerland, which increased its contribution to the most recent African Development Fund replenishment in December 2022, and to its new climate change window. “This shows our strong cooperation,” she said.