One bright star on the African skies and the global financial terrain with consistent invaluable inputs is Nigerian banker, Akin Adesina.
President of the African Development Bank, Akin Adesina’s strides and achievements have been remarkably revamping as far as economies go. And the success story of the continent’s agricultural fortunes can never be complete without his expertise and innovative excellence in the sector.
To that end, it was yet another honor for the agriculture czar this week as the President of Tunisia; His Excellency Beji Caid Essebsi warmly welcomed him and others with a grand ceremony at the presidential palace. Essebsi even awarded the Ibadan-bred technocrat Tunisia’s highest official honor, the Grand Officer of the Tunisian Order of Merit.
In a continent notorious for putting square political pegs into round technocratic holes, Adesina remains a breath of fresh air. He eats, drinks and breathes agriculture. And with the African Development Bank as a platform, he has taken his crusade for an agricultural revolution everywhere on the continent. He galvanized the political will among African leaders to transform the agricultural sector. Furthermore, he lobbied for effective policies to modernize farming and make the sector an attractive proposition for the young. Also, he has helped to ease the burdens of product distribution on small-scale farmers.
Little wonder the minister of agriculture and rural development under former President Goodluck Jonathan has become the darling of African leaders. These leaders routinely serenade him with their country’s highest honors. The honors come in gratefulness for his efforts to increase the availability of credit for smallholder farmers across the African continent. Since assuming the mantle at AfDB, he’s been awarded the Grand Officer of the National Order of the Lion of Senegal, Grand Officer of the Order of Valour of the Cameroon, Grand Officer of the National Order of Merit of Niger, Grand Officer of the Order of Mono of Togo, and Grand Cordon of the Order of the Star of Africa of Liberia.
Akin Adesina was also, in 2017, the winner of the World Food Prize. This was bestowed “for driving changes in African Agriculture for over 25 years, and improving food security for millions across the continent”. Not many will forget in a hurry how as agriculture minister, he introduced the E-Wallet system for local farmers. That effectively wiped out the corrupt middlemen that had hampered fertilizer distribution for decades. He also piloted initiatives to expand rice and cassava production and increase private sector investment in agriculture.