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Energy, job creation, climate change top agenda of African ministers meeting


climate-changeAbout 54 finance or economy ministers from member countries of the African Development Bank group will today (Monday) begin talks in Lusaka, Zambia to review its 2015 operations report, unveil new strategies, and programme to create 25 million jobs for young people over the next decade.

At the end of 2015, the bank had made $112 billion of loans and grants since 1967, through some 4370 operations. In 2015, it disbursed some $8.8 billion in 240 operations, a 25 per cent increase on 2014. Nigeria has been a big beneficiary of the bank’s loans and grant. For instance, in 2014, AfDB approved $500 million to support the establishment of the Development Bank of Nigeria Plc (DBN) and $205million for urban water supply and sanitation project for Nigeria.

This year’s meeting will be focused on “Energy and climate change” – a timely theme for the world and particularly Africa, given that about 645 million Africans do not have access to electricity, 700 million have no access to clean cooking energy, and 600,000 die each year from indoor pollution from reliance on biomass for cooking.

Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun and several heads of state are expected at the five-day meeting. The bank’s flagship meeting would also bring together some 3,000 delegates. Other invitees include development partners, representatives of international organizations, academia, civil society and the media.

During the high-level meetings and thematic forums, participants will make in-depth assessments of the performance of Africa countries in the past year and envision how the Bank can help them cope with the difficult economic situation they face due to the global economic downturn and the fall in commodity prices.

AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina, who will be presiding over his first annual meeting since assuming office as the bank’s 8th president on September 1 last year, said that participants will examine a host of burning issues in Africa as well as approve its activities and budget for the coming year.

Amongst the bank’s five new priority actions – designed to scale up its operations for the continent’s transformation are Light Up and Power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialise Africa, Integrate Africa and improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.

“All of them need to be debated and owned, as much by governments, as by business, as by civil society, as by the press, as by the people of Africa. The agenda is huge: We want to see nothing less than the social and economic transformation of Africa. We want to unleash massive potential – for Africa and for the world,” he said.

The 2016 annual meeting theme is aligned with two of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): SDG 7 to “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all” and SDG 13 to “take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.”

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