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Africa’s population explosion is a ticking time bomb — AfDB Governors

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The African Development Bank and its East and North African Governors have stressed the need for urgent measures to match the continent’s growing population and youth unemployment, which they likened to a “ticking time bomb.”

The meeting described the continent’s growing young population as a potential growth engine for the world.

“The good news is that the solution is within our reach and will require investments,” said Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank.

At the end of a two-day consultation at the headquarters of the Bank in Abidjan, CÕte d’Ivoire, the Bank and the Governors discussed strategizes for closing Africa’s $170 billion infrastructure investment gap.

To bridge the investment gap, ensure inclusive growth, and create employment for the continent’s population, the meeting endorsed the African Development Bank-led African Investment Forum and described it as a timely opportunity to catalyze investments into projects and attract social impact financing to Africa.

Tanzania’s Minister for Finance and Planning, Isdor Mpango, called for closer involvement of the private sector in financing development on the continent.

“The African Development Bank is well positioned to advise and assist Governments and the private sector to come up with bankable projects,” Mpango said, calling for direct resources to provide budget support and investment opportunities.”

Through the African Investment Forum, scheduled for November 7-9, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa, the Bank and its partners intend to showcase bankable projects, attract financing, and provide platforms for investing across Africa. The forum will bring together the African Development Bank and other global multilateral financial institutions to de-risk investments at scale.

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“A uniqueness of the African Investment Forum is that there will be no speeches. The only speeches will be transactions,” said President Adesina.

Rwanda’s Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Claver Gatete said: “The African Development Bank has already discussed the concept of the African Investment Forum with us. The Rwandan Government takes this Forum very seriously.”

“Jobs will come from industrialization. The new approach using the African Investment Forum to de-risk the sector and attract investors is the way to go,” said Kiplagat Rotich, Kenyan Finance Minister.

13 per cent of the world’s population is estimated to live in sub-Saharan Africa today. That number is projected to more than double by 2050. Four billion (or 36 per cent of the world’s population) could live in the region by 2100, according to the UN Population Division. Africa is projected to have over 840 million youth by 2050 with the continent having the youngest population on earth.

According to Adesina, “We have 12 years left to the SDGs. It is an alarm bell because if Africa does not achieve the SDGs, the world won’t achieve them. The African Development Bank is accelerating development across Africa through the High 5s. We are deepening our reforms. We deepened our disbursements to the highest levels ever last year and we are leveraging more resources for Africa.”

Tunisia’s Finance Minister Zied Ladhari recalled how the Bank’s 11-year temporary relocation to his country helped strengthen the bonds between them. “We share the Bank’s vision. Africa is the continent of the future. This is a great Africa moment with the Bank at the centre. Unleashing the potential of African economies is a task which the Bank must accomplish.”

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As part of the Bank’s High 5 agenda, 13 million African women have benefitted from new electricity connections and 23 million from improvements in agriculture. Also, 10 million African women have benefited from investee projects

An analysis of the African Development Bank’s impact from 2010-2017 indicates that 27 million Africans gained access to new electricity connections. 899,000 small businesses were provided with financial services. 35 million have benefitted from improved access to water and sanitation.

“With the Bank’s support, Somalia has evolved from a failed to a fragile state,” asserted Somalia’s Finance Minister, Abdirahman Beileh. “The African Development Bank has been with us throughout. Together we can reach the bright light at the end of the tunnel.”

Algeria’s Finance Minister, Abderahmane Raouia, said “The biggest challenge for Africa today is job creation. It is a stake of stability and a lever to pull economic growth upwards. We must offer job opportunities for young people to convince them to stay here on the continent.”

According to Simon Mizrahi, Director, Delivery, Performance Management and Results, the Bank needs to move from billions to trillions in its funding and leveraging effect.

Egypt’s Ambassador to Côte d’Ivoire, Mohamed El-Hamzawi, who represented the Finance Minister, said the country has seen two revolutions in 2011 and 2014. He thanked the Bank for supporting the country’s macroeconomic stabilization, financial reforms, infrastructure, and energy projects, among others.

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Morocco’s Economy and Finance Minister, Mohammed Boussaid, praised the Bank’s ambition for Africa, and underscored its support for energy, agriculture and infrastructure projects. He said “a capital increase today is not a choice, it is a necessity. Today, the leading export sector in Morocco no longer belongs to traditional sectors, such as phosphates, but to the automotive industry. This generates jobs and adds value for sustainable and robust growth.”

With a substantive capital increase, the African Development will be able to execute its robust pipeline of operations (15bn in 2018 alone), including infrastructure and regional integration projects. The prospects for 2018-2020 are bright, with 50.3 million people benefitting from improved access to transport compared to 14 million in 2017. Also, more than 35 million people are expected to benefit from new or improved electricity connections, in contrast to 4.4 million delivered in 2017.

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AfDB President, Adesina wins All Africa Business Leaders Awards

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African Development Bank, President , Dr Akinwumi Adesina received the African of the Year Award from the All Africa Business Leaders Awards (AABLA), Thursday, in recognition of his bold leadership and the innovation of the Africa Investment Forum which “opened up billions of dollars of investment into the continent.”

The ninth edition of the awards, organized by AABLA in conjunction with CNBC Africa, seeks to honour leaders who have contributed and shaped the African economy.

The Africa Investment Forum, inaugurated in 2018, has been a trailblazer in tilting investments into the continent. The second edition of the Forum which was held in Johannesburg, South Africa ended on 13 November. It was attended by over 2,000 delegates and secured investor interest worth $40.1 billion – up from $37.1 billion the previous year.

“It is indeed a great honour,” Dr Adesina said in remarks during the exclusive gala dinner held at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, at which the awards were announced.  Adesina added that he was overwhelmed to follow in the footsteps of his “big brother” President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, who won the award in 2018. “My heartbeat is to serve the people of Africa,” Adesina said.

The event was attended by an A-list of business leaders, government representatives including David Makhura, Premier of Guateng Province, who gave the opening address. The event also attracted some of South Africa’s leading personalities. Vibrant music was provided by The Muses, a south African all-female string quartet and “Dr Victor And The Rasta Rebels.”

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The awards are decided by a jury of continent-wide judges led by Sam Bhembe, CNBC Africa Non-Executive Director, following evaluation of a shortlist of finalists to determine the overall category winners.

Bhembe said the award reflected how the winner would “shape the future of the African continent,” and that the winner would brace the cover of a special edition of Forbes Africa.

In other categories of the 2019 awards, Nigerian Co-Founder of Kobo360, Obi Ozor won Young Business Leader of the Year; Naspers CEO: South Africa, Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa took the Business Woman of the Year award; while Nedbank, won the Company of the Year award.

Adesina dedicated his award “to the people of Africa who inspire me… I do not work alone.” He also said it was very rewarding to be at the helm “of an organisation that paves the way to progress.”

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Soyinka, top musical artists, business leaders rally for children’s rights

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Leaders from Nigeria’s private sector and entertainment industry on Thursday joined Nobel Laureate,  Prof. Wole Soyinka for a reading of his poem A Child Before a Mirror of Strangers, dedicated to children around the world in commemoration of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which celebrates a milestone 30th anniversary this year.

There is one common bond among all of us — and that bond is childhood,” said Prof. Soyinka.  “We have the responsibility to protect and preserve the integrity of that sole common bond, which is pertinent to all humanity.”

The event, a collaboration between UNICEF and the British Deputy High Commission, brought key leaders and influencers from Nigeria’s private sector and entertainment industry together to discuss how these sectors can help advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the realization of children’s rights.

“Achieving the SDGs and achieving child rights go hand-in-hand,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Nigeria Representative.

“Both will only be achieved if all sectors of business are fully engaged. Child rights and the SDGs need to be integrated into business principles, strategies and plans, which, in turn, can contribute to more robust and inclusive economic growth and improved employment of young people. That is good for children, good for business and good for Nigeria.”

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With a population close to 200 million people and an ever-increasing youth bulge, Nigeria is experiencing increasing demands on schools and health facilities, and growing challenges for young people to find work, amongst other challenges.

In an appeal directly to children, musician, producer and songwriter Cobhams Asuquo said, “You are all that is right in Nigeria because you are the chance to rewrite all of wrongs that generations before you have done.  You have a chance and a clean state to make this country the place we all dream of.”

A strong push will need to be made by all if Nigeria is to meet the SDGs by 2030. The private sector could be a critical key in unlocking opportunities for young people, and also addressing poverty, combatting inequality and tackling environmental problems.

“We are pleased to work with UNICEF, the private sector, and young people themselves on ideas that will contribute to a better Nigeria for current and future generations of children,” said Harriet Thompson, British Deputy High Commissioner in Nigeria.

“With the anniversary of the CRC this year, the 30th anniversary of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child next year and only 10 years left to achieve the SDGs, we must work together and with urgency to scale-up solutions in Nigeria that will improve our planet and all people’s lives, especially our children.”

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World food prices jump in November – Report

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World food prices rose significantly in November, reaching their highest point in more than two years, driven by jumps in the international prices of meat products and vegetable oils.

The FAO Food Price Index, which tracks monthly changes in the international prices of commonly-traded food commodities, averaged 177.2 points over the month, up 2.7 percent from October and 9.5 percent from the same period a year earlier.

The FAO Vegetable Oil Price Index rose by 10.4 percent in November, as palm oil price quotations rose amid robust global import demand, increased use for the production of biodiesels and expectations of possible supply shortages next year. Rapeseed and soy oil values also rose.

The FAO Meat Price Index increased by 4.6 percent, its largest month-on-month increase in more than a decade. Price quotations for bovine and ovine meats rose the most, buoyed by strong import demand, especially from China ahead of year-end festivities. Pig and poultry meat prices also rose.

The FAO Sugar Price Index rose by 1.8 percent from October, buoyed by mounting indications that world sugar consumption in the coming year will surpass production – which is being hampered by less-than-ideal growing conditions in Thailand, India, France and the United States of America.

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The FAO Cereal Price Index, by contrast, declined by 1.2 percent amid stiff competition among the world’s leading wheat exporters. Rice values also fell while U.S. maize export prices remained under downward pressure even as those for Argentina and Brazil were generally firmer.

The FAO Dairy Price Index rose marginally from October, nudged up as milk production in Europe entered its seasonal low and global demand remained strong.

Record cereal production expected for 2019

FAO also released a new worldwide cereal production forecast for 2019, anticipating an all-time high harvest of 2 714 million tonnes, which would be 2.1 percent higher than in 2018.

The latest upward revision, contained in the new Cereal Supply and Demand Brief also released today, reflects higher-than-previously predicted coarse grain yields in China, the Russian Federation and Ukraine.

World output of coarse grains including maize is now forecast at 1 433 million tonnes, marginally short of the record level registered in 2017. After an upward revision for the European Union, global wheat production in 2019 is now forecast to rise by 4.8 percent from 2018 to reach 766.4 million tonnes. World rice production is likely to reach 515 million tonnes, a mere 0.5 percent drop from the record set in 2018, with Egypt, Madagascar and Nigeria all poised to spearhead a rebound for African rice production this season.

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FAO’s world cereal utilization forecast for 2019/20 stands at 2 709 million tonnes, up around 21 million tonnes from the previous season. World cereal stocks at the close of seasons in 2020 are now expected to reach 863 million tonnes. At this level, the global cereal stock-to-use ratio would approach a relatively high level of 31 percent, underscoring a comfortable global supply situation.

World trade in cereals in 2019/20 is forecast at 416 million tonnes, some 1.1 percent higher than in 2018/19.

Weather hits cereal harvests in East and Southern Africa

There are 42 countries today in need of external assistance for food, according to FAO’s quarterly Crop Prospects and Food Situation report, also released today.

Compared to the September issue of the same report, Zambia, affected by drought conditions and record-high staple food prices, has been added to the list, which includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Guinea, Haiti, Iraq, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Uganda, Venezuela, Yemen, Zimbabwe.

The report also provides details on floods that followed earlier severe dryness, cutting harvest expectations in East Africa, and adverse weather conditions that caused a steep production decline in Southern Africa. Unfavorable harvests and significantly high staple food prices in Zimbabwe, set against an economy that has sharply deteriorated, will likely almost double the number of food-insecure people in the country during the first three months of 2020.

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While the cereal output of Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries (LIFDCs) in Africa is expected to decline due to adverse weather that of LIFDCs in Asia is projected to increase, notably in Afghanistan and Syria.

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