AfDB: helping Africa drive quality growth following COVID-19
Beginning his second term as President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), President Akinwumi Adesina unveiled its vision to consolidate its successes over the last five years, hone its operations and exploit opportunities created by COVID-19.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything globally. It has thrown Africa’s growth back,” commented Adesina. “Now, we must help Africa build back boldly, but smartly, paying greater attention to quality growth: especially in the areas of health, climate and the environment.”
In his speech, Adesina outlined the bank’s four strategic pillars that will drive quality, impact and maintain financial sustainability. These pillars included: institution, people, delivery, and sustainability.
Since 2015, the AfDB has been guided by its High-5 priorities, which the president believes will be enhanced and complemented by the new framework. Not only have these priorities guided the bank, but also align with continental and global development frameworks.
The AfDB’s High-5 priorities include:
- Light up and power Africa
- Feed Africa
- Industrialise Africa
- Integrate Africa
- Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa
To date, 18mn Africans have gained access to electricity, 60mn have new access to water, and 141mn benefit from improved agriculture technology for the production of food.
“UNDP has shown that achieving the High-5s would lead to achievement of 90% of the SDGs and the Agenda 2063 of the African Union,” commented Adesina.
As part of the program, the bank plans to build on its agricultural success, scaling up technologies to support Africa in building a competitive agricultural value chain, as well as creating high-tech and creative opportunities to drive youth engagement.
In addition, the bank aims to strengthen its operations, which comes as a direct response to the challenges created by the ongoing pandemic and the banks own long term efforts to meet Africa’s development needs.
“The future beckons the Bank to be more agile and more selective; to scale up what’s working already and reinforce its own institutional and human capacity. Our Bank must ensure its own long-term financial sustainability to drive Africa’s growth further, deeper and faster in the years to come,” added Adesina.
AfDB’s response to the pandemic
In response to COVID-19 the bank established a response facility of up to US$10bn in order to provide flexible and targeted support to its member countries. With the pandemic highlighting the need for a greater strategic focus on Africa’s healthcare system, Adesina further stressed that the bank “will pay increased attention to supporting Africa with quality health care infrastructure, and building on its comparative advantage in infrastructure.”
“When you first elected me five years ago, I had a vision. Five years later, I have yet a vision to build on our collective achievements over the next five years. A vision to build a much stronger and resilient African Development Bank Group with the leadership and capacity to deliver greater quality impacts for the people of Africa, while remaining financially strong and sustainable,” Adesina said.
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.