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SAHEL: the missions of the "champion" of the Great Green Wall, Akinwunmi Adesina©AfDB

The President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwunmi Adesina was named “champion” of the Great Green Wall initiative during a forum on the side-lines of the “One Planet Summit” held on January 11th, 2021. The Champion’s main mission is to mobilise all the funds needed to complete the Great Green Wall, approximately $43 billion, by 2030.

The international community is creating a new incentive to truly combat desertification in the Sahel. At a forum held on January 11th, 2021 on the side-lines of the One Planet Summit, French President Emmanuel Macron, in his capacity as co-organiser of the summit, made the president of the African Development Bank (AfDB) the “champion” of the Great Green Wall initiative. As such, Akinwunmi Adesina will have to mobilize by 2030, all the financial resources needed to carry out the project. This represents an envelope of approximately 43 billion dollars, with an annual average of 4.3 billion dollars according to the latest estimates.

The competition of the champion should therefore revitalize the realization of the Great Green Wall, a plant barrier 8,000 km long, stretching from Senegal to Djibouti. For the progress report presented in September 2020 by the United Nations had noted that the ambitious reforestation project in the Sahel initiated in 2007 was slow to emerge from the ground. Barely 4% of the objective set for 2030 has been achieved, i.e. 4 million hectares of land developed out of the 100 million hectares planned by the programme.

The choice made by the AfDB president

The president of the AfDB has obviously the profile adapted to the title of “champion” of a project like the Great Green Wall. His actions and commitment in the fight against the advance of the desert in the Sahel are remarkable. Joining the donors who are announcing the release of 14 billion dollars for this project, the president of the AfDB has promised to invest 6.5 billion dollars over the next five years.

The 60-year-old Nigerian, re-elected in August 2020 for a second five-year term at the head of the AfDB, recalled the complementary role of initiatives launched in the Sahel by his bank, such as “Desert to Power”. A programme aimed at creating in the Sahel the largest solar energy production area in the world. “This will provide electricity to 250 million people and will contribute to the protection of the Great Green Wall. If there is no access to energy, the Great Green Wall will be nothing more than trees waiting to be turned into charcoal,” explains Akinwunmi Adesina. In its strategy to fight climate change in Africa, the AfDB also intends to mobilize 25 billion dollars by 2025.

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