Taking over the presidency of the African Development Bank from Rwanda's Donald Kaberuka, whose combination of political savvy and straight talking on economics put the Bank back on the global map, was always going to be tough. The tenure of new President Akinwumi Adesina started last year at the end of the commodity super-cycle as the continent's growth levels fell to their lowest for 15 years.
That's not an inheritance that is likely to slow down Adesina, a
workaholic and relentless networker, who opened the AfDB's annual
meeting in Lusaka on 25 May with the battle cry: 'Africa must think
big, act big and deliver big.' With its theme of 'Energy and Climate
Change', the meeting attracted the heads of state of Kenya, Rwanda,
Chad and Zambia, the host.
At the opening discussion to launch the Jobs for Youth campaign,
Bank officials circulated research showing that of the 10-12 million
young Africans who join the labour market each year, less than a
quarter find jobs in the formal sector. Carlos Lopes, head of the UN
Economic Commission for Africa, said there was a mismatch between
Africa's education and the skills needed to transform its economies.
Just under 3 million people emigrate from Africa each year, that's half
the rate of people leaving China,
Lopes said, arguing against media
images of a tidal wave of migrants. The difference, he said, was that
China was equipping its youth with the skills they needed to compete in
the global economy.