“Our collective humanity is at risk” – AfDB President

“No nation has been spared. The death toll is disheartening, and our collective humanity is at risk,” said African Development Bank President, Akinwumi Adesina in his 2020 pre-welcome message as the Bank opens its Annual Meetings today 25th August 2020. “Never have societies and the economies with highly vulnerable populations especially women, youth and children face challenges of such proportions that has plunged hundreds of millions into poverty all at the same time and everywhere across the globe.”

In his virtual message published on the Bank’s website over the weekend, the AfDB boss said for the first time in the Bank’s history the annual meeting will be held virtually due to the unprecedented effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Bank’s decision for this, he said, is motivated by the need to ensure the personal safety, wellbeing and the health of everyone as these are extraordinary times.

“Never before has the limits of science been so tested the span of our physical capacity which has stretched to unimaginable limits and the economic gains we have made over the decades lost in the wake of a global pandemic that has rocked economies, peoples and institutions,” he said. Adesina said the interconnectedness of our shared loses is deeply felt every single day, and that “the effect are deep and they will be prolonged. It will take massive and sustained efforts to help countries especially African countries to recover from the impact of the pandemic”.

“Never has the need for building economic, social, climate and environmental resilience been more critical to sustaining growth and development. Our annual meetings provide an excellent opportunity to watch with pride to see you our shareholders work with palpable passion and collective commitment to advance the mission of the Bank, your Bank, whether physical or virtual,” he added. He cited that the dynamic and enthusiastic atmosphere of their annual meetings always offer them excellent opportunities to hear from members on their ambitions for Africa and the Bank, and to listen to their perspectives and recommendations on how they plan to improve their work and operations.

This, he affirmed, will strengthen the institution and its effectiveness to support the people of Africa, and how to constantly work to ensure the Bank’s long term financial sustainability, today and into the future. “Today and that future are both being challenged by the pandemic…grateful to the Board for approving the Banks COVID-19 response facility to support regional member countries. We have been responsive within what is feasible, taking into consideration our prudential limits,” he noted.

The annual meetings, he added, will provide an excellent forum for exchange and dialogue on their work and plans to help African economies recover and build post-COVID-19. “We are together in our commitments and determination to help Africa build back its economy from the devastating effect of the pandemic despite not being at the same location,” he concluded.

By Zainab Iyamide Joaque