Salon Dinner Discussion with African Development Bank President

On Wednesday, September 30, the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center hosted an exclusive dinner discussion with Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, in New York City.

After a welcome by Atlantic Council Treasurer and Executive Committee Member Brian C. McK. Henderson, Africa Center Director J. Peter Pham introduced Adesina, noting that his background—coming from modest means and growing up in rural Nigeria—and his experience in both the private and public sectors made him uniquely qualified to lead the African Development Bank.

Adesina discussed his priorities for his five-year tenure as President, noting that he wants to see the Bank become more nimble, more efficient, and more effective. He discussed the importance of energy, and the need to “fast track” electrification efforts across Africa. Second, he focused on the importance of agriculture, remarking that he believes the right investments in agriculture—and making it profitable, and not just a way of life—will be the catalyst to lifting millions of Africans out of poverty. Third, Adesina detailed the role of the private sector in his vision. While the Bank has always worked with the private sector, Adesina expressed his hope to the many private sector leaders in the audience that, under his leadership, the Bank would do more to engage with and learn from the private sector. He noted the importance of partnerships to the Bank’s success moving forward, and in particular the need to leverage the experience and capital of the private sector to move forward on development priorities.

A discussion followed his prepared remarks, where participants engaged with Adesina on topics including affordable housing, gender equity, the role of China in Africa, and incorporating new technologies into the Bank’s work.