JOHANNESBURG  - The future for Africa looks promising, although the continent will not develop through aid but rather via investment, African Development Bank (AfDB) President Akinwumi Adesina has said.

Referring to the bank's latest African Economic which forecast growth of four percent this year and 4.1 percent in 2020, Adesina said economic opportunities in Africa were generating considerable interest globally and that an agreement last March establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) would create the largest free trade area in the world.

"The African Development Bank is at the centre of the actions taken to ensure the success of the continental free-trade area," he told diplomats in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on Tuesday. "We have invested over one billion dollars to support the financing of trade in Africa."

He said the free movement of people on the continent was another important driver of development.

"We need to break down all barriers that impede the free movement of people across the continent, especially that of workers, because this is vital for promoting investment," Adesina said.

In its latest report on intra-African investment, the AfDB noted the significant increase in cross-border investments to $12 billion last year from $2 billion in 2010.

"Africa will not develop through aid, but through investment”, said Adesina, pointing out that last year's Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg had  secured investment interest in 49 deals across the continent worth over $38 billion in just two days.

He said the bank's 'High 5' priorities were already producing significant impact, with 4.5 million people connected to electrical grids last year. Nearly 20 million more people had access to improved agricultural technologies and industrial investments in the private sector had benefited 1.1 million. 

Some 14 million people had gained access to improved transport services, while another eight million people had benefited from better access to water and sanitation.

"We need to achieve universal access to electricity. We need to help Africa to become self-sufficient in food," Adesina told the diplomats.

"We need to achieve a fully integrated continent. We need to industrialize Africa and improve the quality of life for its people."

- African News Agency (ANA), Editing by Stella Mapenzauswa