Côte d'Ivoire: AfDB president cautions about fragility threat in Africa

Abidjan, in Côte d'Ivoire (PANA) - Warning that fragility threatens to tear apart the very fabric  holding African communities together, African Development Bank (AfDB) Group President Akinwumi A. Adesina has called on African countries to identify and mitigate fragile situations in the continent.

"The nature of the risk varies from political instability, institutional weakness, poor governance and security concerns, to structural challenges of undiversified economies, urbanization and climate change," Adesina remarked Tuesday at the First Africa Resilience Forum organized by the AfDB in Abidjan.

The two-day Forum aims to strengthen partnerships that go beyond aid coordination to effectively build resilience at community, country and regional levels.

According to Adesina, weak institutional capacity is a key feature of fragile situations in the continent and significantly impairs the state’s ability to deliver public goods and services.

Out of 26 countries considered fragile in the 1990s, 11 countries were considered to have built resilience; nine did not make progress and six countries even deteriorated. Other countries have made more progress in building resilience.

However, after the 1990s, the number of fragile situations has been steadily increasing over recent years and developing a regional dimension.

Adesina explained that the impact of fragility includes lives lost through conflict, rural poverty, and lack of employment for youth, increasing intra-societal divisions, and deteriorating infrastructure and natural resources, threatening to create a triangle of disaster.

He observed that the nature of the risk of fragility varies from political instability, institutional weakness, poor governance and security concerns, to structural challenges of undiversified economies, urbanization and climate change.

"Underlying the fragility pressures are patterns of exclusion and poverty, unemployment, high migration, rapid urbanization, climate change and poor management of natural resources. Fragile situations therefore emerge when such pressures overwhelm countries’ existing institutional capacities to handle them," he said.

In his view, fragility should be considered in the context of the triangle of disaster, the vicious cycle of rural poverty, youth unemployment and climate change.

Adesina underlined the need to chart the way forward in making the lives of the most vulnerable communities in Africa valuable, productive and meaningful. "We must not leave anyone behind in our transformation of Africa," he said.

Since harnessing the benefits of regional integration is impossible with fragile countries, he noted that many African countries with fragile situations are landlocked with small internal markets, such as Central African Republic, Burundi, South Sudan and Mali and depend for their access to regional markets on neighbours.

The AfDB chief hailed the private sector as a core contributor to growth and economic production, noting that its opportunistic and enterprising character enables it to exist and even prosper in situations where government institutions have collapsed.

Citing Somalia as an example, he said that in spite of the country's central government vacuum, both the domestic and foreign private sector have found ways to prosper in Somaliland by developing their own business environment, identifying and responding to market needs and gaps.

"The private sector role becomes ever more important, once countries transition out of fragility, stabilizing the economy and society and creating much needed jobs, as can be seen in Cote d’Ivoire.  

“Fragility is neither constrained by any geographical setting, nor is it bound by time,” said Adesina, adding that countries, experienced varying intensities of fragility and duration, in some cases manifesting as pockets of fragility.

The Forum has brought together senior government officials from around Africa, private sector executives, economists, chief of regional and United Nations institutions, as well as representatives of the African Union, World Bank, Islamic Development Bank, UN High Commissioner for Refugees and G7  Secretariat.
-0- PANA AR 10Jan2017

10 january 2017 18:30:17

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