Dr Akinwumi Adesina, the President African Development Bank (AfDB), says regional integration will be meaningless unless women, who form majority of the traders effectively participate.
Adesina said this on Wednesday at the former opening of AfDB Annual Meetings in Malabo.
To this end, he said to advance opportunities for women, the Bank’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA), was being rolled out to leverage between three million dollars and five million dollars specifically for women businesses in Africa.
According to him, the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) has invested more than 68 million dollars in AFAWA.
“This is very exciting for women in Africa, when women win, Africa wins,’’ Adesina said.
The AfDB president who reeled out the achievements of the Bank in the last one year, noted that regional integration was crucial for Africa’s accelerated development.
“We must connect landlocked countries to ports. We must allow free movement of people. Investors must be able to invest beyond the borders of countries and Africa must trade more with itself.
“Apart and divided, Africa is weakened. Together and united, Africa will be unstoppable.’’
Adesina commended the President of Equatorial Guinea, Mr Obiang Mbasago for hosting this year’s meeting and for his generous hospitality.
Also speaking, Mbasago said he was in support of integration of Africa, but added that the process must be gradual as it comes with so many challenges.
According to him, integration must be guided by rules.
The president welcomed stakeholders to his country, and urged them to find time to tour the country to enable them see the massive infrastructure being put in place by his government.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the opening was attended by the President of Democratic Republic of Congo, Mr Felix Tshisekedi, and a representative from Lesotho.
Other dignitaries who graced the occasion include governors of AfDB, Finance Ministers, Heads of Diplomatic Missions, members of Boards of Directors of AfDB, and partners among other dignitaries.
The theme of this year’s meeting is “Regional Integration for Africa’s Economic Prosperity’’.
The Annual Meetings provide opportunities for experts, governments, businesses, civil society, think-tanks and the academia to share their candid assessments on regional integration efforts and dialogue on critical issues concerning Africa’s development.
The meeting which opened on Monday with closed door sessions with dignitaries continues on Thursday.
edited by Sadiya Hamza