African Development Bank president Akinwumi Adesina. Picture: REUTERS
African Development Bank president Akinwumi Adesina. Picture: REUTERS

The African Development Bank (AfDB), which has an active portfolio of $4.9bn in SA, is looking to increase its capital base to meet a growing need for funding on the continent, its president, Akinwumi Adesina, said on Friday.

Speaking at the end of the 2018 meeting of its board of governors — mainly finance ministers of member countries — Adesina said the board had asked the bank for a general capital increase. However, Adesina would not provide details.

In 2017, the bank — a multilateral institution based in Abidjan, the Ivory Coast — lent out $7.4bn. Its $1bn loan for Eskom was among its biggest to date. The bank has also previously capitalised the Land Bank, among other institutions.

Adesina maintained that agriculture offered countries on the continent the fastest way to move up the value chain, not least because Africa had 65% of arable land and that about 60% of its people still lived off the land.

He conceded that many countries had not lived up to the Africa Union’s 2003 Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security, which bound signatories to spending at least 10% of their budgets on agricultural development.

He said the quality of the investment was important.

"We have to start looking at agriculture differently; it’s not a way of life or a social sector, it’s a big money-making sector."

Adesina was speaking from Busan, Korea’s second city, which hosted the annual meeting of the AfDB’s board of governors, with the focus on the industrialisation in Africa. The 2019 meeting will be held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.

In November 2018, the bank is due to host its inaugural Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg. This will be an annual platform focused strictly on facilitating business transactions meant to contribute to closing Africa’s huge infrastructure funding gap.

Johwa is in South Korea as a guest of the AfDB.