The President of the African Development Bank Group, Akinwunmi Adeshina, has urged the Irish business community to invest more in Africa.
He stated this at the 7th Africa Ireland Economic Forum in Dublin where he was received by Irish President, Michael D. Higgins.
“If you are not investing in Africa, you’re not in business,” Adesina told his audience. “Foreign direct investment of Ireland in Africa was $572 million at the end of 2020 and represented only 0.05% of Ireland’s total net foreign direct,” Adesina said. “This is too low. Ireland should invest a lot more in Africa. Let’s set a target of 15% of Irish investments in Africa.”
The exhortation from Africa’s premier development finance institution’s chief was matched by the Irish authorities’ publicly expressed enthusiasm about Ireland-Africa cooperation. Speaking at the forum on Thursday, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Defence Simon Coveney talked about Ireland’s deepening economic and cultural links with Africa. He noted the prospects for closer trading links with the continent, pointing out that trade between Ireland and Africa would likely reach €5 billion by 2025.
Receiving the Bank Group chief on Friday, Irish President Michael D. Higgins congratulated Adesina for his work on the recent establishment of the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation. “Nothing is more important than that,” said President Higgins. He spoke about his long-time interest in Africa and his optimism for its economic advancement. Discussing the looming global food crisis prompted by Russia’s war in Ukraine, President Higgins welcomed the pre-emptive steps the Bank had taken to ensure food security for the continent.
Describing their meeting, Adesina said: “President Higgins so warmly received me. He has a heart and passion for Africa. He told me: ‘You are doing such an incredible job for Africa with your leadership in running the African Development Bank. I am inspired by your vision.’”
Similar support for continued strong cooperation came from senior Irish officials with whom Adesina met during his visit, notably: Colm Brophy, Minister of State for Overseas Development Aid and Diaspora; John Hogan, Secretary General of the Department of Finance and Alternate Governor for Ireland at the African Development Bank Group; and Paul Ryan, Director of the department’s International Finance and Climate Division, which is responsible for managing Ireland’s shareholding in international financial institutions.
Adesina thanked the Irish government for joining the African Development Bank and the African Development Fund, the Bank Group’s concessional lending arm, and he expressed appreciation for Ireland’s contribution—announced by Foreign Affairs and Defence Minister Coveney on Thursday—of €2 million to the African Development Bank for climate adaptation.