The African Development Bank Group’s 2008-2012 Mid-Term Strategy will replace the 2003-2007 Strategic Plan. Is the Mid-Term Strategy meeting the same priorities as those of the Strategic Plan?
At the country level, the African Development Bank Group’s first Strategic Plan (2003-2007) was built around the following strategic priorities: agriculture and rural development, water and sanitation, and human capital formation. At the regional level, the Plan underlined the growing importance of regional economic integration and infrastructure development, under NEPAD’s development agenda. The strategy sought to optimize resource allocation through greater operational selectivity, maximize effectiveness through enhanced client focus, quality enhancement and development results, and build up the Bank’s human, institutional and knowledge management resources.
The African Development Bank Group’s Medium-Term Strategy 2008-2012 is advocating increased selectivity, with particular operational focus on infrastructure, governance, developing a more robust private sector, and higher education. Through investments in these areas, the Bank will contribute directly to regional integration, middle income countries and fragile states assistance, human development, and agriculture. Knowledge generation, climate change and gender will be mainstreamed in all the Bank Group’s operations.
What are the factors indicating that the strategy is attaining the desired results?
In April 2006, major changes occurred in the Bank’s organizational structure, as well as reforms in human resource management, business processes, and the budget framework and administration. These reforms were aiming at enhancing country focus, deepening sector expertise and improvng project implementation.
The Bank is now better organized for stronger country focus and greater sector depth, and improved synergy between them. New departments provide concentrated focus and capacity in priority areas such as governance, regional integration, and results and quality assurance.
The Bank has strengthened its managerial and staff capacity. A major and successful recruitment campaign has attracted a significant number of new managers and professionals, primarily in operations and direct operations support to significantly expand capacity to deliver programs.
To achieve its vision by 2012, the Bank Group will keep on building further on major reforms already underway, with particular emphasis on execution, results, delivery, and selectivity. The Bank has adopted a results measurement framework which will be applied across the Bank for the purposes of reporting on results during implementation of the medium-term strategy.
The ambitious medium-term agenda to enhance quality and strengthen the focus on development results in its strategies, operations and information systems the Bank has embarked on, is therefore including reforms in five key areas aiming at: Improving quality at entry in strategies and operations, instilling a results-focused supervision culture by shifting to continuous supervision and implementation support in the field, enhancing learning and accountability through evaluation by ensuring timely preparation of results-oriented completion reports and stronger feedback loops from lessons learned to new operations and strategies, improving data and systems for results reporting, and accelerating decentralization for better results on the ground.
Implementing the quality and results agenda is a Bank-wide effort, with staff and Managers across the organization fully engaged and accountable. In order to meet all its objectives, the Bank has established a new Quality Assurance and Results Department which will coordinate implementation across the institution and report on progress towards better results to the Bank’s shareholders, clients and ADF Deputies.
Why have sectoral strategies changed since the Strategic Plan?
Greater selectivity and focus at sector levels is required to leverage the Banks’ limited resources more effectively, produce demonstrably superior results, and earn a position of acknowledged leadership at the country level and within the donor partnership, in the areas and sectors where the Bank has a clear competitive advantage. A more selective operational focus will be set out in the Bank’s annual operational programmes and in individual Country Strategy Papers for ADF, AfDB and Blend borrowers.
Furthermore, the global financial crisis has introduced new pressures and uncertainties. Slower global economic growth, more difficult credit conditions, and changes in the international aid architecture pose additional challenges to the continent. At the same time, if these challenges can be overcome globalization presents Africa with unprecedented opportunities to grow and modernize. In this context, the needs of the Bank’s clients are changing.
What means has the Bank got to reach its strategic objectives?
The Bank enjoys a unique position in Africa and the development community. Its structure provides RMCs with a valued voice, and its elected African president and predominantly African staff confers legitimacy and an ability to play the “honest broker” role. As a major Pan-African organization, the Bank is well positioned to build effective, credible partnerships with both African and non-African institutions.
The Bank is also recognized for its strong performance in specific areas; it has been entrusted with leadership on key continental initiatives: implementing AU/NEPAD programs in infrastructure, regional integration, and economic governance; hosting the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa, the African Water Facility, and the African Fertilizer Financing Mechanism; acting as trustee for the NEPAD Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility (NEPAD-IPPF). These roles position it well to influence and leverage additional resources for Africa.
On the other hand, the Bank’s private sector investment tripled in 2007. A strong pipeline of projects and increasing demands for Bank Group participation, including through innovative public-private partnerships, presents significant opportunities for growth, synergy and catalytic impact.
The Bank is positioned to enhance its focus/growth in infrastructure lending and regional projects. Financing for infrastructure has declined significantly, particularly from bilateral donors, even as country demand has increased. The Bank should fill this gap.
Does the strategy include a precise action plan?
An effective Strategy must be a framework, not a blueprint. Within a clear set of priorities, the Bank must be able to respond to changing needs and circumstances. It should be judged by its results: the contribution it makes to development and the reduction of poverty, in particular by promoting equitable growth and economic integration, and through them, wider opportunities for Africa’s poor.
What is the Bank’s vision at the end of this strategy?
By 2012, the Bank Group will be recognized globally, and by its shareholders in particular, as a preferred partner in Africa, providing high-impact, well-focused development assistance and solutions.
To implement this vision the Bank Group will:
- focus on poverty reduction, primarily by supporting the drivers of stronger and more equitable growth, opportunity and economic integration;
- deliver clearly identified and demonstrably superior results across the full range of its activities, and in the full range of its RMCs;
- focus more selectively on infrastructure, governance, private sector operations, higher education and technology and vocational training;
- in this context, increase engagement in and support for regional integration and fragile states, especially in post-conflict circumstances;
- mainstream gender, climate change and knowledge management more fully and effectively in its operations;
- contribute materially to broader human development objectives and the MDGs, notably through the water and sanitation sector;
- build creative new partnerships, particularly with the private sector, to better leverage existing strengths and extend effective reach and impact;
- become an effective and respected voice for and within Africa, including by providing high-quality knowledge products and analytical services;
- improve responsiveness to and engagement in client countries, including through effective decentralization and reduced transactions costs.
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