AfDB President wraps up UAE trip

African Development Bank Group President Dr Akinwumi Adesina wrapped up an official three-day visit to the United Arab Emirates on Friday where he met with Emirati rulers, ministers and state companies in a bid to boost bi-lateral investment.

Dubai ruler Sheikh Maktoum Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, alongside other UAE officials and the African Development Bank chief, discussed strategic opportunities that would strengthen economic ties between the UAE, the Bank, and Africa.

The visit—held on the sidelines of the World Government Summit and the closing days of Expo 2020 Dubai—explored potential partnerships for strategic investment in Africa between the African Development Bank Group and the UAE, in renewable energy, agriculture and food production.

In a nod to the UAE ruler Adesina said: “There is a lot that Africa can draw from the UAE’s remarkable success. What the UAE has done, using its resources, its drive and determination to develop the country into what it is today is highly impressive.”

“We are keen to see the UAE become an even more valued and significant investment partner in Africa. The UAE has been a highly valued participant in the African Development Fund, our Bank Group’s concessionary lending arm supporting low-income countries since 1978. Hopefully, we may at some point be able to welcome the UAE as a member of the African Development Bank.”

Adesina also held bilateral meetings with other senior members of government and heads of UAE parastatal companies. They included discussions with the Minister of State for International Cooperation Reem Al Hashim, and the Minister of State for African Affairs, Sheikh Shakhbout bin Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan.

Receiving the African Development Bank head, the Minister of State in charge of African Affairs, Sheikh Shakhbout, spoke about the UAE’s desire to help African countries diversify their economies, provide value-added support for small and medium-sized enterprises, explore potential social housing investment opportunities, and    connect young African fintech companies to innovations that would allow them to grow and thrive on the continent.

The African Development Bank President and the Director General of the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi, also signed a memorandum of understanding for closer collaboration, on behalf of their respective institutions.

Suwaidi said: “We consider the African Development Bank to be the continent’s Think Tank. We believe that Africa is the world’s next growth frontier and we don’t want to miss that.”

Adesina and Sultan Bin Sulayem, CEO of Dubai Ports World, the world’s largest port operator, with 78 marine and inland terminals in more than 60 countries, held substantive discussions. The Bank has actively financed port infrastructure projects in Africa. Adesina and Sulayem, discussed investment cooperation that would link African ports to renewable energy and industrial hubs including food production and agro-processing.

Equally productive discussions were held with Dr Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, CEO of Masdar, an innovative Abu Dhabi renewable energy company; with His Excellency Ahmed Saeed Al Calily, CEO and Chief Strategy and Risk Officer of Mubadala, a sovereign investor managing diverse portfolio of UAE and global assets; with senior officials of TAQA, a leading UAE energy company; and with the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA).

Prominent in discussions were investment synergies between the UAE’s Etihad 7 energy initiative and the African Development Bank’s Desert to Power initiative, with a combined potential to provide 350 million people with renewable energy

As a keynote speaker at Dubai’s Annual Investment Forum and during meetings with key government, business and investment leaders, Adesina highlighted the continent’s largely untapped potential in several sectors, the bank’s unparalleled knowledge of Africa’s development and investment landscape, and the institutions risk management instruments.

The African Development Bank head extended invitations to attend the next edition of the Africa Investment Forum—Africa’s premier investment platform—in November 2022, to key leaders and institutions. The Africa Investment Forum, founded by the Bank and seven other partner institutions, has attracted over US$100 billion in investment interests into Africa since its inception in 2018.