Thursday, May 25, 2017

High Five

High Five

Give me five, High five and Up five are the gestures popular in the world for greetings. It is a better form of touching because it spreads fewer germs than handshakes. It might had originated from the play grounds but it becomes a mantra of the development of African Nations. 

The five days (22-26 May 2017) 52nd Annual Meetings of African Development Bank Group, first time held in India, inaugurated by Honourable Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi at Mahatma Mandir Gandhinagar is working with its 2800 delegates and many Gujarat based business executives on its "High Five" strategy of development. AfDB Group is a multilateral development bank whose shareholders include 54 African and 26 non African countries. India became member of AfDB in 1983. 

The Bank has identified five priority areas of development: light up and power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialise Africa, Integrate Africa and Improve life of people. It has MapAfrica, with geotagging to focus of five critical areas of the ten years strategy that guides the Bank's investment. 

The theme of the meeting is Transforming Africa unlocking agriculture potential. It's continent with the most available arable land that can feed the world but they feed their population with the support of food imports. It has hindered nutrition and food security. Over 211 million people are hungry or malnourished. 24% of children under five years old are stunted. Populations increase, cities expand and middle class development has increase the demand of food imports led to negative agricultural trade balance. With recurrent droughts it is in need of water management and irrigation projects to improve productivity of agriculture to generate domestic, inclusive and sustainable growth. The Bank's investments in agriculture over the last five years have benefited 5.6 million people with focus on use of technology, inputs and access to finance, water management, research and extension. 

It's a continent that can generate electricity from the hydro and solar projects but large area of it is living in darkness. 645 million people cannot yet access electricity. Only 45% of people are connected to electricity. Agriculture Sector needs energy for irrigation, storage and processing. Women need clean cooking solutions and girls need to spend more time of productive work to attend school. The Bank installed 540 MW of total power capacity and 41 MW of renewable power capacity with improved power and distribution lines over the last five years. 

It's a continent rich in natural resources but unable to industrialise because of poor infrastructure. Only 43% of population have access to finance. The Bank provided financial services to 150 thousand small businesses over the last five years. It has provided better access to transport services to 7 million people. It has realised the importance of making roads sustainable. 

To increase in competitiveness, trade and economic growth that are needed to reduce poverty, the continent needs to progress more on its integration agenda. However, intra-African trade is just 15% of Africa's total trade. Cross border roads, regional transport corridors, regional power pools, investments on infrastructure including commercial agriculture, soft infrastructure, trade support facilitation, etc, have been aimed at. The Bank constructed 540 kms cross border roads over last five years. It has financed infrastructure projects, constructed cross border transmission lines and finance workshops and studies to develop consensus on regional development needs. It has a large and youthful workforce but it is in need of more entrepreneurs. It imports more than it's exports. Unless the continent produce high values quality goods and services, the trade deficit will continue. 

4 in 10 Africans live in poverty. Only 61% of appropriate age population are enrolled in education. 71% of people have access to improved drinking water. Only 39% of them have access to improved sanitation services. Better nutrition is fundamental to reduce deaths of children under five, preventing stunting and promoting quality of life. Population increasing but the economic growth rate is barely increasing. 200 million Africans between the age of 15 and 29, youth unemployment and underemployment are high. They are in need of technical and vocational education. Better health, education, water and sanitation services are instrumental to improve quality of life. The Bank delivered 1.6 million jobs and trained 652,000 people. It has provided access to water and sanitation to over 3.73 million people. It has funded irrigation projects. Their education projects benefited 477,200 people of whom 269,600 were women. 

They have used traffic light symbols of Green, Yellow and Red to measure the performance. Green traffic light for those who achieved the target. Yellow Light for those who are close to meeting the target and Red Light for those who fell short of their target. The High 5 strategy of the Bank is a clear road map for accelerating their support in priority areas of agriculture transformation, universal access to energy, tripling industrial GDP, a more integrated Africa, a healthy, educated and trained workforce will work together with a transformed agriculture sector to deliver inclusive and green growth, eliminating poverty in Africa. 

Expanding middle class, increase trade and investments, sound public financial management to fund infrastructure maintenance, stronger institutions for managing reforms, good governance, fragility, climate change, renewable energy and gender are the fundamental issues of any government of the developing nation to address for achieving sustained development. 

India has a long tradition of South-South co-operation and is expanding its partnership with Africa. India-Africa trade is expected to reach US $100 billion by 2018. Africa was a land of making of Mahatma Gandhi. Many Gujaratis and Indians have settled and prospered in Africa. Our PM has rightly concluded his opening ceremony speech with the words: "In the sports arena India can not compete with Africa in long distance running but I can assure you that India will always stand with you shoulder to shoulder supporting you in the long and difficult race for better future". 

Let us greet Africa with "High 5"

Punamchand
25 May 2017

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