Demographic and social, ecological, energy, political, technological transitions… African countries face crucial challenges for their future. AFD has risen to these challenges. With a renewed strategy, our teams are stepping up the work which has been conducted for several decades for Africa’s development. The continent is and remains central to AFD’s action.
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Africa, school, girl, education
AFD and Africa: supporting the transitions throughout the continent
Children, Madagascar

Addressing the challenges of employment and youth

professional training center, Senegal, training, building

Addressing the challenges of employment and youth

Africa’s population is expected to double by 2050 to 2.5 billion inhabitants, i.e. a quarter of the world’s population. 

These strong demographic dynamics present a number of challenges and opportunities. The growth in the working age population can contribute to increasing productivity and promoting shared prosperity on the continent. However, to unleash this potential, the transformation needs to be supported. Particular attention must be paid to the problems faced by youth: employment, intergenerational inequalities, social integration.     

Supporting these developments will be a focus area for AFD’s operations in the coming years. Indeed, the subject has an impact on all public policies: needs for infrastructure and basic services, urban growth, the need to increase agricultural productivity to feed populations, etc.

AFD’s aim is to facilitate the demographic transition through its financing. The objective is to strengthen everything that can promote social cohesion: sexual and reproductive health services, family, education, training policies, etc. Maintaining this demographic path at a sustainable level also requires increasing the productivity of African economies. This is the purpose of maintaining the priority given to the electricity, transport, water and agriculture sectors. 

Building sustainable territories and cities

Rice crops, cultivated lands, Madagascar

Building sustainable territories and cities

While Africa’s urban population is expected to increase from 41% to 63% by 2050, the bulk of the poor population will continue to live in rural areas. 

Rural development is more than ever a core issue for Africa. Rural areas will need to increase agricultural productivity and strengthen the resilience and sustainability of systems. At the same time, urbanization comes with an increase in urban poverty. Many rural workers who migrate to cities find themselves in “rurban” areas. These territories are ill-equipped (particularly in terms of housing and transport) and there is a lack of employment due to their low level of industrialization. 

In the coming years, AFD’s objective is to contribute to the changes in the development models of territories by promoting sustainable cities and directly supporting local authorities. We will also be investing in rural areas and ecosystems to strengthen their resilience and reduce territorial and ecological imbalances. 

Our support for the financial governance of local authorities will strengthen the impact of the initiatives implemented. The preservation of global Commons (biodiversity, water, minerals/natural resources, etc.) will also be a major part of our action.

Increasing access to clean and competitive energy

Solar plant, Noor, Morocco

Increasing access to clean and competitive energy

While Africa is the region in the world with the lowest level of carbon emissions, it is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. This firstly concerns water resources, which have a direct impact on agriculture and food, as well as on territorial and urban development. 

Yet energy transitions are also a way for African countries to undertake a paradigm shift and adapt their development path. Addressing these challenges will lead to the creation of low-carbon and effective energy sectors which contribute to improving equity. 

AFD consequently wishes to promote dialogues on energy transition pathways in Africa. The objective? Develop the possible benefits in terms of the environment, economic growth and social development. AFD will use diagnostics and technical assistance to help countries plan and implement their energy transition.

AFD will work to build capacities for adaptation and resilience to the negative impacts of climate change. This action will be part of the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (REn) for 2020, and France’s commitment to earmark EUR 3bn for it. We will be strengthening energy supply and access in African countries, by promoting the development of REn and the deployment of new digital technologies. 

Improving the governance of societies

justice, Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire

Improving the governance of societies

It will not be possible to achieve Africa’s sustainable development without peace, stability and the deployment of transparent and effective institutions. Yet despite an overall improvement on the continent, security and the respect of the rule of law have declined in 33 countries out of 54 over the past 10 years. It is essential to promote the rule of law, the recognition of debate among citizens and an improvement in governance.

To prevent and address crises, AFD aims to make the fight against vulnerabilities central to its action. A more effective coordination with humanitarian aid will be sought, in particular by strengthening the role of the State and public services as key actors in the prevention and resolution of crises. AFD will interact more with actors in security in order to gain a better understanding of the context of operations in sensitive areas.  

Furthermore, the promotion and respect of human rights will remain priorities. Taking into account the violence encountered by young people and women will continue to have a prominent place in projects. 

AFD will take action on the root causes of crises via the “Vulnerability Mitigation and Crisis Response Facility”. These resources will allow a rapid mobilization of substantial financing and efforts to be maintained. In addition, where necessary, projects will be implemented at regional level to reduce contagion risks (Ebola, Boko Haram). 

Becoming the bank for African innovations

Trader, Ghana

Becoming the bank for African innovations

Digital innovation holds huge potential for Africa. Yet today, while there is increasing access to digital technologies, it remains the lowest in the world. The average Internet penetration rate on the continent only stands at 16%, with huge disparities within countries. Despite the dynamism of start-ups, digital entrepreneurs face major barriers: lack of support, cost and quality of infrastructure, difficulties to access financing… 

AFD will consequently continue to support Africa’s digital transition. Our activity will specifically focus on infrastructure, capacities, services and governance. At sectoral level, priority will be given to the opportunities offered by digital technologies for the achievement of the SDGs. 

E-education and e-health provide opportunities to promote human development. Developing sustainable cities and improving the quality of urban services calls for the digital transition of operators, the exploitation of data and the promotion of innovation ecosystems. Exploiting satellite and remote sensing data contributes to easing environmental problems. Using mobile technologies for agriculture strengthens food security and rural development. Finally, AFD will be scaling up its action to support start-ups, as it has done by organizing the Digital Africa competition with Bpifrance.

billion euros committed in 2020 in Africa by the AFD group
of AFD Group's financial commitments (grants and loan subsidies)
of the 54 countries in Africa benefit from AFD-funded projects

Today, 50% of AFD’s activity (excluding the French overseas territories) directly concerns Africa. AFD is able to operate in the 54 countries on the continent and is currently implementing projects in 44 of them.

While efforts to support the continent are continuously being stepped up, AFD’s Africa strategy for 2017-2021 marks a development. Up until now, the continent was viewed in a separate manner: North Africa on one side, Sub-Saharan Africa on the other. Our action now encompasses the entire continent. 

Indeed, transnational issues are becoming increasingly urgent, as intracontinental flows (persons, goods, money) are set to constantly increase in the coming years. In addition, the continent is marked by a sharp increase in demographic pressure, security issues, as well as the impacts of climate change. In this context, it is essential to strengthen the management of spaces, problematic issues and common resources.  

Furthermore, the diversity of economies and regions in Africa requires having an ever-sharper view of the actions conducted. AFD today operates practically all over Africa and has the capacity to take action and effectively grasp the dynamics of the subregions.  

AFD has produced an Atlas of Africa, published by Armand Colin in French, to account for this new perspective. This atlas, with its 100 or so maps and graphs, reviews the developments in Africa over more than half a century. The objective is to better reflect what AFD’s officers see and support on a daily basis: the changes taking place on a continent in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals.

All the public data collected and processed by AFD’s economists can be accessed on the website Africa in Maps (available in French). These global, continental and national maps and graphs are adaptable and can be viewed based on chronological criteria and socio-economic indicators. They are freely available and downloadable.   

Interactive map
This map is for illustrative purposes only and does not engage the responsibility of the AFD Group
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