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AfDB president announces a one billion dollars boost into African SMEs

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) has so far invested about 1 billion dollars on small businesses and infrastructure in Africa, the President of the bank, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, has said.

Adesina told a news conference on Monday, 10 June 2019, in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, ahead of the AfDB’s 2019 Annual Meetings that opened on Tuesday, 11 June 2019, in the central African country.

The theme of this year’s meetings is ‘Regional Integration for Africa’s Economic Prosperity’. Regional integration gained momentum with the agreement on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in March 2018 and is now at the threshold of its launch next month.

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The AfCFTA will constitute the world’s largest free trade area, consolidating an integrated market of 1.3 billion consumers with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of about 3.4 trillion dollars. It is estimated that Africa’s GDP growth could reach six percent a year in a continent without borders (UNECA).

Answering questions from journalists, Adesina said the bank invested around 1 billion dollars through various initiatives, including cross border infrastructure to move trade across African borders.

According to him, most of the investment has gone to small and medium enterprises – the engine of economic growth.

The report by Nigeria’s Daily Trust newspaper quoted Adesina as saying that the bank is committed to accelerating Africa’s integration process.

“In the last five years, the bank has invested more than 15 billion dollars in the construction of regional infrastructure in energy, transport and ICT,” he added.

He said some of the projects included a 93.8 million dollars loan for the long-awaited Trans-Gambia bridge linking the Gambia and Senegal, resulting in a 50 percent cut in freight costs and improved transport, health and education services for 900 000 local people.

Speaking earlier on the importance of regional integration in Africa, Adesina said: “If we get our integration right, Africa will be more competitive; will be able to create a massive amount of jobs and, more importantly, Africa can develop in dignity and confidence.”

The report added that annual meetings provide the opportunity for experts, governments, businesses, civil society, think tanks and academia to share their candid assessments on regional integration efforts and dialogue on critical issues concerning Africa’s development.

– APA

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