His bow-tie easily stands him out any day. This charismatic, intelligent, and eloquent development banker has broken new grounds in Africa’s transformational growth. Akinwunmi Adesina is passionate about food boost and sufficiency in Africa. His zest for charting a new course for development on the Continent through creative innovation makes him a square peg in a square hole for bettering the lives of his African brothers.
Many at Abidjan’s vast Palais des Congres on the evening of 28th May 2015 would be forgiven for thinking they had arrived at a concert for a chart-topping Ivorian act. But amidst torrents of applause and flashing lights, a more unlikely star emerged. Akinwumi strode confidently to the podium and delivered his speech in both French and English. This was the fawning reception that greeted his crowning as the eighth president of the African Development Bank, (AfDB). He is the first Nigerian to attain this height.
As the President of African Development Bank (AFDB}, this Oyo-State born son of a farmer continues to make transformational development st r i d e s in a g ri c u l tural modernization, infrastructural development and industrialization on the continent. The AfDB board approved the reorganization of their structure around his five strategic priorities of energy, agriculture, industrialization, regional integration and bettering African lives. The implementation of these strategies are anchored around the Africa Investment Forum which is expected to provide a platform in connecting investors seeking to invest in Africa by raising capital and accelerating investment to transform Africa’s economic, agriculture and industrial sector. The African Investment Forum is scheduled to hold in South African at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg. The 7-8 November 2018 Event is a world- class initiative that will provide a platform to transform the continent’s development landscape.
African Development Bank under his presidency has been supporting small and medium Enterprises SMEs, in the agricultural sector in some African countries including Nigeria by developing agriculture infrastructure which would support SMEs in Africa through “The Agriculture Fast Track Fund” (AFT) Akinwumi was the Nigeria’s agriculture minister from 2010 to 2015. His appointment came at a time when the nation was overshadowed by dependence on oil. His vision of reforming the agricultural sector was one backed by innovation and creativity on how to modernize agriculture, get the youth involved and change their perception in a way that allows them to see agriculture as a viable and profitable business.
Akinwumi’s dogged philosophy led to the emergence of more agricultural millionaires and billionaires on the continent. He set the stage for what is now acknowledged globally as a revolution in the agriculture sector through the introduction of the electronic wallet (e-Wallet) platform to Nigeria’s food production and distribution chain. Through the e-Wallet and the Growth and Enhancement Support Scheme (GES) initiative, Akinwumi pioneered a new way for the Nigerian government to successfully register more than five million Nigerian famers. Their information and mobile phone numbers were used in subsidising farm inputs, such as fertiliser and seeds through private agro dealers. The farmers, in turn, redeemed these subsidised inputs from the agro-dealers, using evouchers, which they accessed through their mobile phones. Also, Nigeria’s rice production witnessed a tremendous boost as thousands of paddy farmers produced a consistent grade of rice. This created the opportunity for several agro-based companies to switch from rice importation to local rice production. Akinwmi introduced more transparency into the fertiliser supply chain in Nigeria, ending the reigns of wanton corruption that had besieged the process for decades.
Born on the 6th of February 1960, this first class 1981 agricultural economics graduate of the University of Ife, Nigeria, also obtained a PhD in same field at Purdue University in Indiana, United States of America in 1988. He won the Outstanding PhD Thesis for his research work. From 1990 to 1995, Akinwumi served as a senior economist at West African Rice Development Association (WARDA) in Bouake, Ivory Coast. He worked at the Rockefeller Foundation after winning a fellowship from the Foundation as a senior scientist in 1988. From 1999 to 2003 he was the representative of the Foundation for the southern African area. From 2003 until 2008 he was an associate director for food security.
Akinwuni recently clinched the highly coveted 2017 World Food Prize (WFP) Laureate award in the United States of America. Remarkably, he donated the $250,000 prize to the development of African youths in agriculture. This endeared him to many and earned him the United States government’s commendation. A statement signed by US Vice President Michael Pence, described Akinwumi as a man whose ‘devotion to the cause of fighting global hunger is admirable and deeply needed.’ His many other awards include the Extraordinary Achievement Award (Silverbird Television, 2015) and the YARA prize for the African Green Revolution in 2007.In September 2016, Akinwumi was appointed by the United Nations Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon to serve as member of the Lead Group of the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement. This father of two continues to spearhead transformational agenda that spur giant developmental strides in Africa’s industrialisation, regional integration and improving the quality of life of the people on the continent as a whole. He is proudly Nigerian.