White rhino at the Rhino Sanctuary, Meru National Park. AFD’s support significantly stabilised the security, protecting the park against poaching and encroachment.
Rehabilitation of Sasumua dam. With a capacity of 64,000 m3 the construction works supply up to 20% of the Nairobi suburbs’ demand for drinking water. The dam had been partially washed away and destroyed during the El Nino climate Phenomenon. This rehabilitation has led to improved supply of drinking water in the capital.
Kipevu Water Treatment Plant is the only modern sanitation plant in Mombasa; this rehabilitation will help reduce discharge of sewerage into the ocean. The rehabilitation works is part of The Mombasa City water and sanitation improvement project, funded by AFD to the tune of 40 million euros, which also includes the rehabilitation of the treatment and pumping station of Baricho and Marere and the rehabilitation and extension of the water and sanitation distribution network.
Menengai crater, productive wells N°1 in testing phase. The Geothermal Development Company is responsible for geothermal sites development in Kenya. Exploration drilling started on the site in 2010. Three wells have already been drilled and a third one is on progress. The first productive well is in testing phase. It should have a capacity of 7MW.
Strong economic growth, a demographic explosion unprecedented in its history… Yves Boudot, Director of AFD’s Sub-Saharan Africa Department, tells us how Sub-Saharan Africa has become a focus of attention and is facing daunting challenges.
Yves Boudot spent 27 years of his career in about ten African countries. He was appointed Director of AFD’s Sub-Saharan Africa Department a few weeks ago.
Is it right to say that Africa is the priority continent for AFD?
Africa is the main priority for France’s cooperation policy.* AFD is in charge of implementing this vision. This priority given to financing development in Sub-Saharan Africa aims to provide solutions to the major issues and challenges posed by the emergence of the continent. This priority is also the result of the very history of France’s official development assistance and of our Institution. It is in Sub-Saharan Africa that AFD’s operational, financial and emotional roots are implanted. This is what makes AFD stand out in the landscape of donors and also constitutes its main area of expertise and its core value. Sub-Saharan Africa concentrates nearly 40% of AFD’s total activity and 60% of the State budgetary effort.
How should we view the situation in Africa today?
We should try to avoid the tendency we have to generalize as soon as we talk about this continent. For far too long now, generalities about the situation in Africa and its future have made us vacillate unequivocally between a pessimistic or fatalistic vision and a blind optimism. Sub-Saharan Africa is diverse and complex with widely varying situations. However, one thing that is sure today is that Sub-Saharan Africa is at the forefront of the global issues and challenges both today and for the coming decades. This is perhaps how the situation actually stands in Africa today. The unprecedented population dynamics, the strong and resilient economic growth in recent years, the natural resources potential that we are constantly talking about, but which has so far been developed very little, and the continued progress towards peace and democracy have definitely made us change the way we look at the continent. South Africa is a striking example. Who could have foreseen, back in 1990 when Nelson Mandela came out of prison, that twenty years later this country would be the economic power that it is on the way to becoming?
What are the main challenges that Sub-Saharan African countries need to face?
There are major challenges. Africa will need to feed almost a billion more people by 2050. Its population growth rate is estimated at some 15 million more people a year. Its agriculture will need to feed cities that will continue to grow at a fast pace and also to provide rural areas with a livelihood. By 2050, two billion Africans will need access to water, energy, education or health, whereas today’s production and distribution capacities cannot meet demand. Finally, economic growth in Africa, which is well above the current growth of our economies, will first and foremost need to be synonymous with large-scale job creation for the continent’s youth and with tax resources for States. The emergence of a formal private sector is one of the major challenges for Sub-Saharan Africa.
What are AFD’s main strategic directions in Sub-Saharan Africa?
Once again, they depend on the economic and social situation of the countries we support. They consequently first depend on the demand and needs of the beneficiaries of our financing, but also on States’ capacity to borrow in order to finance their investments. AFD’s activity in Sub-Saharan Africa is today guided by three main areas defined by the French Government: financing major infrastructure, developing more productive agriculture and supporting more inclusive growth. The first therefore involves supporting the development of major infrastructure and providing communities in cities and rural areas with access to essential services. They concern access to energy, transport, water, irrigation, education and health. A recent World Bank study highlighted the lack of this infrastructure, the high cost of access to it and the substantial additional amounts required to remedy the current situation over the next ten years. Energy and transport are objectively speaking the two main priorities. These two sectors require heavy investments. They must be implemented by coordinating the efforts of donors, private partners and States. For example, there is considerable hydropower potential and projects, which are necessarily regional, are implemented over the long term. We must now focus our efforts on this sector. Since the end of the 1970s, rail transport has been abandoned for roads and yet on the main trade corridors and to transport raw materials from the mining industry it is the means of transport that best meets needs. The second priority area for the coming years is to develop subsistence farming and agri-food industries. The sector accounts for 13% of GDP in Sub-Saharan Africa and concerns almost 70% of the working population. It helps create value, stabilize communities in rural areas and combat desertification. Africa’s agriculture needs to be more productive in order to guarantee food security for cities and rural areas and create export surplus. These challenges are core to the way movements take place between Africa’s growing cities and rural areas. Finally, everyone is aware that for nearly ten years now, the continent’s economic growth rates have been well above those of our own economies. This steady growth is largely driven by the upward trend for commodity prices, notably mining and oil products. It is, moreover, often unequal from one country to another. It is essential to promote the development of more inclusive growth led by a formal private sector in high employment generating sectors. AFD is consequently pursuing its efforts to promote the development of a banking and financial system oriented towards the development of this private sector.
Do we have geographical priorities?
In terms of the distribution of the French State’s budgetary effort, the 14 priority countries for French cooperation** are a strong focus for AFD’s activity. However, AFD now works in all Sub-Saharan African countries where it adapts its action and tailors its tools to the needs expressed and to our ability to meet them. The real priority would be to come up with a different geographical approach to Sub-Saharan Africa. We must first look at things from a regional perspective, particularly for major infrastructure projects, while pursuing national actions in other sectors. The scale of the challenges that we have just mentioned and the critical size of the economic blocs are such that a regional approach is inevitably essential. This is true when it comes to financing major energy or transport infrastructure projects, but also for the development of coherent and integrated economic areas that create dynamism and emulation, in synergy with the regional Unions that are gradually emerging.
* This priority is set out in the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs’ Framework Document for Cooperation for 2011.
** The 14 priority countries in Sub-Saharan Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Guinea Conakry, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Togo.