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Donors pledge US$17mn to Africa Solidarity Trust Fund

African and non-regional donors have pledged US$17mn to replenish the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund, an initiative which aims to provide food security and eliminate rural poverty on the continent

The pledges were made at a high-level donor round table convened by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and Equatorial Guinea President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, on the sidelines of the African Development Bank’s 2019 Annual Meetings currently underway in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.

Mbasogo said that the Fund illustrated “a turning point in the fight against food insecurity” and said his tiny oil-rich nation had donated generously out of its oil revenues to show solidarity to African countries.

The Fund, an initiative of FAO, received its start-up contribution of US$30mn from Equatorial Guinea, the host nation of this year’s meetings and Angola, which gave US$10mn. Its projects have been lauded for providing innovative solutions for African agriculture and food systems.

Jennifer Blanke, vice-president for agriculture, human and social development at AfDB, said that Africa faced challenges in the area of agriculture and food production, relying heavily on food imports.

“It’s so important that ASTF is showing that African countries are contributing to Africa..that links very closely to what we are doing,” Blanke noted, adding that the AfDB’s commitment to providing farmers with technologies to help improve their yields.

The donor conference was attended by the presidents of Mauritania, Guinea Bissau, the prime minister of Eswatini and several high-ranking diplomats, ministers and development and banking institutions.

The theme of the AfDB’s meetings this year is “Regional Integration for Africa’s Economic Prosperity.” The push for regional integration has gained momentum with the ratification of the agreement on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in March 2018, which is now at the threshold of its launch in July.

Maria Helena Semedo, deputy director-general of FAO, commented that the Fund has led to the successful implantation of 18 projects that have benefitted 41 countries and hundreds and thousands of beneficiaries including 160 vulnerable households in Niger who saw transformation and grants which enabled a rapid response to populations affected in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014.

The meeting raised a total of US$17mn - US$10mn from Angola, US$2.6mn from China, US$2.26mn from France, US$2mn from Equatorial Guinea and US$100,000 from Zimbabwe.