African Development Bank (AfDB) President Akinwumi Adesina said he was optimistic about the outlook for Africa’s economic recovery despite the current challenges facing the continent, particularly the coronavirus pandemic.
Adesina made the comments during a virtual ceremony of the African Leadership Magazine’s African of the Year valedictory meeting.
“There is a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m very positive that African economies will bounce back over the next two years,” he said.
“As we look forward to the future, we will do so with confidence, hope, and a sharper focus.”
Africa’s economy, like much of the world’s, has taken a battering by the effects of the pandemic with trade and supply chains being disrupted, and some industries such as aviation and tourism being among the worst affected.
A report by the AfDB last year said Africa stood to lose between 25 and 30 million jobs in 2020 depending on the level of economic contraction due to the effects of the pandemic.
Even as he projected a recovery in the near future, Adesina pointed out that Africa should also build “forward and faster”.
Adesina said it was crucial to empower the continent’s youth and women to ensure it reached its full economic potential.
“Together we will create new opportunities for Africa’s youth and trigger a youth-based wealth system in Africa. Together we will ensure that growth delivers financing for women of Africa,” he said.
Despite boasting the largest population of young people in the world, youth unemployment is a major challenge the continent still grapples with.
He also called on stakeholders to invest in the youth rather than offer them handouts in order to “unlock entrepreneurship and put their skills to work”.
“I see the youths as an asset to Africa. That’s why AfDB is going full steam ahead with our Jobs for Youth strategy, aiming for 25 million new positions before 2025.”