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Avellon Williams 

TURKS & CAICOS- An upward trend in economic ties between Africa and the Caribbean was seen this week as the region’s premier financial institutions-the African Development Bank and Caribbean Development Bank advanced their cooperation.

President Dr. Akinwumi Adesina /Image, ADB/

During the Caribbean Development Bank’s 52nd Annual Meeting in Providenciales, Turks & Caicos, African Development Bank Group President Dr. Akinwumi Adesina delivered the 22nd William G. Demas Memorial Lecture.

A long-planned visit by the African Development Bank president to deliver this lecture physically was put on hold for the last two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic which caused both institutions to work virtually.

Dr. Hyginus ‘Gene’ Leon, the CEO of the Caribbean Development Bank, and Adesina announced a new strategic partnership that would deepen the development and economic ties between the two regions.

Dr. Hyginus ‘Gene’ Leon /Image, SLNR/

With a packed audience, the William G. Demas Memorial Lecture provided a platform for exchanging experiences and charting a pathway for a closer partnership between Africa and the Caribbean.

During Adesina’s lecture, titled “Development in a Context of Global Challenges: experiences and lessons from the African Development Bank,” he shared lessons learned from the African Bank’s experience in addressing seven global challenges, including the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, renewable energy, and energy transition, food security, the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, infrastructure, debt mobilization, and women’s empowerment.

(From left) President Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, Dr. Hyginus ‘Gene’ Leon /Image ADB/

Through their multilateral development banks, the two regions – which share deep cultural and historical connections – will be able to collaborate more closely, particularly in agriculture, establishing links for the African Development Bank to help train and develop agricultural capacity for the younger generation.

“We must encourage our young people to realize that agriculture is not simply about subsistence farming,” the African Development Bank chief stressed.

“It is a business, and we should be turning out more and more of what I like to call ‘agripreneurs‘,” he said.

For strategic cross-fertilization of transatlantic investments, the African Development Bank chief proposed building on the existing Africa Investment Forum, designed by the Bank in 2018, to create an Africa and Caribbean Investment Forum.

Premier Charles Washington Misick /Image, CC/

During Adesina’s trip, he met with Premier Charles Washington Misick and key members of his government. The leaders discussed future collaboration opportunities.

Additionally, he spoke with members of the Turks and Caicos private sector, and he urged them to place a high value on agriculture as a profitable bottom-line business and a source of immense benefit to the economy and quality of life for the Turks and Caicos people.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between the two multilateral development institutions on Tuesday in Providenciales that further strengthened their cooperation.

The MoU was signed by Adesina and Leon on behalf of their institutions. Both banks will work together in various capacities. Together they will implement economic diversification initiatives in their respective regions, with an emphasis on implementing technological and digital transformation solutions in commerce, trade, public services, and financial intermediation and inclusion.

/Image, TBN/

In signing this MoU, the two institutions formalize their partnership to promote trade between Africa and the Caribbean. The agreement also facilitates collaboration on the sustainable development of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises in both regions.

According to the heads of the two development finance institutions, the MoU will play a pivotal role in making their regional economies more resilient, especially for the most vulnerable. As a result of the collaboration, innovative financing instruments are expected to be developed and made available to the two regions to stimulate the flow of funds.

At the signing, Adesina explained: “Our challenges and the solutions that we must pursue to address them are similar. Together, we are catalyzing the development of our respective regions, making a difference in the lives of our people, ensuring that impact is strong and lasting, and shaping the global narrative about our respective regions and institutions.”

Leon stated: “Deepening partnerships and knowledge sharing are critical for us to realize the transformative development of our respective regions as we envision. This agreement will not only strengthen our relationship with the African continent but also fuel the innovative path we are pursuing in areas of mutual interest beneficial to all.” 

/Image, ADB/

The Caribbean Development Bank’s 52nd Annual Meeting theme, “Measure Better to Target Better” resonates with both regional development banks, as both are committed to measuring efficacy to better serve their member countries.

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Avellon Williams

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