AfDB Group: The first 50 years

AfDB is the continent’s largest development finance institution

Fifty years ago, on 4 November 1964, Ministers from 23 then independent African States convened in Lagos, Nigeria, for the inaugural meeting of the Board of Governors of the African Development Bank.  The young Institution was assigned a dual mandate: the social and economic transformation of Africa, and the economic integration of the Continent.

That mission is as relevant today as it was then. What started as a continental partnership among a handful of African countries has emerged as one of Africa's most effective global partnerships, with universal African membership.  Along the way 26 non-African members have joined the ranks, and two of them in the last two years.

We salute the pioneers and the founders of the Bank for their vision. We pay homage to all those who, over the years in serving the Bank at different levels, have made this endeavour possible. We remember those who are no longer with us. We also thank the partners of the Bank across the world for their support and friendship.

Mirroring Africa’s journey, it has been an eventful 50 year journey for the Bank.  There have been exhilarating moments, but also challenging ones. From the modest beginnings with just ten staff members and an authorized capital of US$ 370 million, the Bank has risen to become a world class institution, with robust financial strength and a solid operational record.  In meeting its mandate, the Bank has committed around US$ 110 billion, and leveraged much more in co-financing.

Today, thanks to the support of its shareholders, its franchise value, and its strong foundations, the Bank is AAA-rated, with an authorized capital of US$ 100 billion.  The Institution attracts committed and first-class minds, and now boasts of nearly 2,000 staff members, operating across all 54 African countries.  

At a moment of great changes in Africa, the golden anniversary provides an opportunity for a rededication to the dreams of the founders, and the aspirations of the people of Africa.

There are new challenges and there are old ones: from finding innovative ways of funding infrastructure, to building human capital, to combatting climate change and epidemics. In a world that has changed so dramatically – not least over the last three decades – we will have to innovate. It will not be enough to do more of the same.

When the Bank was established in 1964, the population of Africa was no more than 300 million people. That number has since tripled.  By 2040 it will be close to 2 billion people. Our task is that much more challenging: promoting economic growth that is strong, shared and sustainable; investing in people; and remaining focused on our core mission: the economic integration of Africa. In the battle for prosperity for the people of our great continent, the African Development Bank can look back with pride, and to the future with new energy and determination. At a moment like this one, we remember Madiba’s words: "after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb".  I thank everyone inside and outside the Bank. Together we shall prevail. 

Donald Kaberuka, AfDB President, 2005-2015

The African Development Bank is a model of how Africa and the developed world can work together for mutual benefit and with mutual respect

Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda

What is the AfDB?

AfDB's prime objective is to mobilize financial resources to support sustainable economic and social development in Africa. To do this, the Bank raises funds from inside and outside the continent to finance development projects such as roads, hospitals and schools, agricultural projects and electricity.

AfDB from1964 to 2014:

From 23 to 79 member countries
From 10 to 2000 staff members
4.185 Projects, loans and grants
1.000 bn USD cumulated loan

Watch the AfDB 50th anniversary official video

As we grow up, our needs change. For that reason, with the Bank, we work on innovative instruments.

Kweku Ricketts-Hagan, Deputy Minister of Finance, Ghana

Africa/AfDB Timeline





PHOTO: Romeo Horton (center), of Liberia, leader of the “Committee of nine” 

Conference of Ministers established committee from 9 countries to prepare for the creation of AfDB



In Khartoum, on 4 August, 23 states signed the Agreement Establishing the ADB

“The Governments on whose behalf the Agreement was signed were determined to strengthen African solidarity by means of economic cooperation between African states, and therefore agreed to establish hereby the African Development Bank with the objective of contributing to the sustainable development and social progress of the African member countries”.



300 million people

US$ 39.2 billion GDP


Bank members: 26

September 10: Birth of AfDB

November 4-7: Board of Governors inaugural meeting in Lagos, Nigeria

Mamoun Beheiry (Sudan) elected 1st President



March: Headquarters opened in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire



Bank staff: 10

Board of Governors 1st meeting in Abidjan

July: Official start of operational activities 



PHOTO: Mamoun Beheiry signing the first two Bank operations: an equity participation in the National Development Bank of Sierra Leone, and a loan to finance the construction of a road in Kenya

Bank loans/grants: US$ 2.3 million



PHOTO: A project in agriculture sector, in Liberia

First Bank projects in Agriculture and in Water supply 



Bank loans/grants: US$ 7.9 million 

First Bank projects in Power supply  and in Finance



PHOTO: Infrastructure project in Central African Republic

Abdelwahab Labidi (Tunisia) elected 2nd President. 

The Bank intensified its contacts and search for business and got more project proposals. 



The Bank continues to extend its loans, with special focus on the six Sahelian countries: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal. The Sahelian countries were hit hard by drought and required both humanitarian assistance and long-term financing to improve their food security.



African Development Fund (ADF) created.  The role of the ADF is to establish a ‘soft’ window for lower income countries, contributing to poverty reduction and economic and social development by providing concessional funding for projects and programs



Bank loans/grants: US$ 135.5 million

1st General Capital Increase (US$ 206 million)

ADF began operations



PHOTO: Laying of the first stone of the AfDB Headquarters building, in Abidjan. On the right, the second President of the Bank, Abdelwahad Labidi of Tunisia.

The Board of Governors approved the establishment of the Nigeria Trust Fund

First Bank projects in Education and Health sectors.



PHOTO: Kwame Donkor Fordwor (Ghana) elected 3rd President. 


PHOTO: Telecommunications project in Swaziland



The Board of Governors approved in principle the admission of non-regional countries to the Bank’s membership. Negotiation with non-regional countries began. 



Bank loans/grants: US$ 519.9 million

Goodall Gondwe (Malawi) Acting President

The two oil price shocks of 1973 and 1979 had a strongly adverse impact on African economies. African countries were persuaded to seek external resources, and eventually the Bank decided to open its capital to non-African members. 



Willa Mung’Omba (Zambia), elected 4th President 



17 Non-Regional Members attended their first AfDB Group Annual Meetings as full Members

The admission of the non-regional countries helped to improve the financial position of the Bank, and consequently its rating by international financial markets.



Bank loans/grants: US$ 879.3 million 



Babacar Ndiaye (Senegal) elected 5th President



4th General Capital Increase of US$ 22.3 billion (200% increase)



PHOTO: Côte d’Ivoire President Félix Houphouet-Boigny hosting an African Development Bank delegation in his private residence in Cocody, Abidjan. The first President of Côte d’Ivoire played a key role in the establishment of the Bank, and in the promotion of regional integration.

Approval of US$ 13 billion lending program



612 million people

US$ 495 billion GDP


Members: 77
Staff: 1100
Number operation (since 1967): 1291
Bank loans/grants (1989): US$ 2.8 billion 

25th anniversary celebrations. Report of the  Committee of Ten on the AfDB’s future



Babacar Ndiaye re-elected for a second term.

During the 1990s, the AfDB diversified its mission and focused on new challenges. 



First Bank projects in Micro-Finance



Appointment of Bodour Abu-Affan (Sudan) as first woman Vice President

First Bank projects in Environment sector



PHOTO: President N’diaye (left), and the President of Benin Nicéphore Soglo (center) during a symposium organised by AfDB.



Bank loans/grants: US$ 1.4 billion



PHOTO: Omar Kabbaj congratulated by his predecessor, Babacar N’Diay

Omar Kabbaj (Morocco) elected 6th President.

During his mandate, major issues that received attention included the strengthening of the Bank’s country focus by establishing country teams, aligning the Bank’s interventions with the development priorities of the countries, improving the quality-at-entry of projects, as well as the monitoring and evaluation of projects.



South Africa and Botswana first African countries to contribute to ADF.

Agriculture, private sector development and human capital development identified as new strategic sectors for Bank lending.



PHOTO: A view of the AfDB Annual Meeting in Abidjan, 1998. 



Bank loans/grants: US$ 1.638.6 million

Bank adopts new vision to promote economic growth with equity and poverty reduction as central goals.

To this end, Bank resources would target four operational areas: agricultural and rural development; human resources development; private sector development; and good governance.



Omar Kabbaj re-elected for a second term

First Bank projects in urban development

The United Nations adopt the Millennium Development Goals



First Annual Meetings outside Africa in Valencia, Spain



PHOTO: The Bank’s offices, in Tunis

Bank temporarily relocated to Tunisia because of growing political instability in Côte d’Ivoire



Bank loans/grants: US$ 2 691.5 million 



Donald Kaberuka (Rwanda) elected 7th President.

Kaberuka pushed for far-reaching decentralization of Bank operations to enhance product and service delivery, donor harmonization and policy dialogue.



In the face of the international financial crisis, President Kaberuka, together with leaders of the African Union and the Economic Commission for Africa, was tasked to find ways of alleviating the serious credit, investment and growth constraints that the crisis was imposing on the continent. 


International financial crisis 



Bank loans/grants: US$ 11.8 billion



6th Global Capital Increase of US$ 64 billion

Donald Kaberuka re-elected for a second term

Africa population reaches 1 billion



AfDB develops short term and long term measures for crisis-resilient growth in North African

Arab spring



Establishment of Regional Resource Centers in South Africa & Kenya

Bank wins two US Treasury Development Impact Awards (projects in Uganda & Cote d’Ivoire)



ADF-XIII Replenishment of US$ 7.3 billion (to 2016)

Bank approved Ten Year Strategy (2013-2022) with the objectives of inclusive growth and transition to green growth”



1,136 million people

US$ 2,476.9 billion GDP


Members: 80
Staff: 1900
Number of operations (since 1967): 4185
Bank loans/grants (2014): US$ 6.5 billion 

AfDB celebrates its return to Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, after 11 years

PHOTO: The ceremony celebrating the Bank’s return to Abidjan is led by Donald Kaberuka (right) and Daniel Kablan Duncan, Prime Minister of Côte d’Ivoire (left)

"The African Development Bank is a model of how Africa and the developed world can work together for mutual benefit and with mutual respect."

Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda

"As we grow up, our needs change. For that reason, with the Bank, we work on innovative instruments."

Kweku Ricketts-Hagan, Deputy Minister of Finance, Ghana

"We were extremely grateful to the Bank that it came in when we were in a crisis situation."

Cornelius T. Mwalwanda, Deputy Minister of Finance, Malawi

"Africa cannot continue to depend to Western countries for loans. AfDB initiated an African fund, to mobilize funds from our own resources and build our own capacity."

William A. Mgimwa, Minister of Finances, Tanzania

"In Africa, to develop our own investment funds changes the way we see ourselves. We can vaccinate ourselves against fragility."

Tendai Biti, Minister of Finance, Zimbabwe (2013) 

"We will never forget the Bank’s help during the crisis, at a time when we couldn’t get any help from any classical development partners."

Patrick Achi, Minister of Economic Infrastructure, Côte d’Ivoire

"The AfDB has been able to tailor its actions to our post-crisis social and economic situation, particularly by participating in the renewal of basic infrastructure."

Nialé Kaba, Minister of the Economy and Finance, Côte d’Ivoire

"The AfDB has become a strong, modern institution. It has refined its instruments to align them closely with our concerns."

Kerfalla Yansané, Minister of State, Minister of the Economy and Finance, Guinea.

"After the crisis, AfDB became the leader of the funders supporting Mali.”

Marimpa Samoura, Minister Responsible for the Budget, Mali.

50 years, 50 images… a panorama of what we do