Infrastructure critical to Africa’s growth, development — expert
By Lucy Ogalue
An economist, Hannah Ryder, has urged the next World Bank president to focus on infrastructure in its support to the African continent.
According to the economist and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Development Reimagined Firm, infrastructure is crucial to the growth and development of the continent.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the United States has nominated an Indian-American business executive Ajaypal Banga to be the next president of the World Bank.
This makes his appointment by the Bank’s board certain as this makes the development finance community optimistic for indications of his agenda.
According to Ryder, the nominee of the world Bank has never worked in an Multilateral Development Bank (MDB), or ran any before.
She therefore advised him to take a cue from the development oriented and impactful initiatives of the president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwumi Adesina.
“Since Banga has never worked in an MDB, I have one piece of advice for him. Before he decides on his approach, he should speak to Adesina, AfDB president.
“For instance, over the 2019-20 fiscal year (mostly before the COVID-19 pandemic), the world Bank disbursed 14.5 billion dollars to Africa.
“But only a small proportion of this went to building new infrastructure.
“In comparison, the AfDB disbursed 5.1 billion dollars, the vast majority of which went to infrastructure. This was the right thing to do, infrastructure is crucial,” she said.
According to the expert, the continent, in spite of its size still lacks the logistical and energy infrastructure it needs to be able to trade efficiently.
Ryder said Africa also lacked the necessary infrastructure to manufacture pharmaceuticals on the scale that China and India does to ensure their health sovereignty.
“The continent exports more fertiliser than it imports in spite its need to improve the quality of food production.
“This is partly because the existing logistical infrastructure, which the world Bank provides small loans to rehabilitate, is mostly oriented to trade outside Africa.
“It will be crucial for Banga to understand how the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank(AIIB), AfDB and other regional MDBs deliver better finance for their regions in times of crisis.”
On what the AfDB president might tell Banga, the expert said the bank was obliged to rely less on country teams.
According to her, AfDB staff unlike the World bank, are more diverse, with different theories about development, and its board structure is more recipient-dominated.
Ryder restated that learning from regional banks like AfDB would ensure the possibility and feasibility for greater contribution to growing the African continent.