By Ruth Tene Natsa, Abuja
The President African Development Bank Group, Dr Akinwumi Adesina has said, that with $6.2 trillion worth of natural resources, 65 percent of the world’s uncultivated arable land, and a vibrant youth population, Africa has no excuse to be poor.
Akinwumi spoke on Tuesday in Lagos where he delivered a lecture to mark the 40th anniversary of The Guardian, Nigeria’s foremost independent newspaper with the theme, ‘For the World to Respect Africa’
He said the continent must look inward urgently to solve its many challenges and urged citizens to hold governments accountable for poverty.
Adesina, who won The Guardian’s ‘Man of the Year’ Award in 2021, stressed that Africa should not be where it is today and urged its resource-rich nations to strengthen good governance, transparency, accountability, and sound management policies to turn things around.
He said considering the vast natural resources that Africa has, it must become a continent that grows inclusive and well-distributed wealth.
“If we manage our natural resources well, Africa has no reason to be poor. We have $6.2 trillion in natural resources,” he said. “So how in the world are we still poor? We simply need to pull up our socks, stamp out corruption, and manage our resources in the interest of our countries and our people,” added Adesina.
He explained further: “Saudi Arabia has oil, as does Nigeria. Kuwait has oil, as does Nigeria. Qatar has abundant gas, as does Nigeria and other countries. Yet, Nigeria is the country with the largest share of its population living below the extreme poverty line in 2023 in Africa. Clearly, there is something fundamentally wrong in our management, or rather mismanagement, of our natural resources.”
As an example, the Bank president cited South Korea, which raised its GDP per capita from $350 in the 1960s to approximately $33,000 by 2023. “That is the kind of quantum leap that we need,” Adesina said: “We must ask ourselves, when will we make the shift that South Korea made, from being a country that was once on the low end of the development ladder to the rich, industrialised nation that it is today.”
“I am optimistic about Nigeria. I am optimistic about Africa. I believe in Africa,” he added.
Adesina said: “Africa needs the right policies, investments, infrastructure, logistics, and financing…We must make sure that this is driven by a highly skilled, dynamic, and youthful workforce,” he told the audience of ministers and other senior government officials, former state governors, business leaders, academics, and media at The Guardian event.
The Bank President commended The Guardian, for continuing to “guard the truth”.
He said: “Over the years, this world-class publication has set a benchmark for journalistic excellence. It has helped to shape public discourse, champion accountability, and serve as a people’s watchdog. In doing so, The Guardian has justifiably earned the respect of Nigerians and readers across the world.”
The Guardian’s Chairman and Publisher, Lady Maiden Alex-Ibru, described the Bank President as “one of Nigeria’s greatest exports to the world.”