Since 1964, when the African Development Bank was established, a great deal has changed. Fifty years ago, many of the Bank’s 54 regional member countries had yet to achieve full independence, the population of the continent was only a quarter of what it is today, and per capita income was frequently less than a dollar a day.

Fifty years ago, the women and men who understood the importance of setting up a financial institution to promote Africa’s development were visionaries. They realized that such an institution – located on the African continent – would be essential in laying the groundwork for growth in all sectors: agriculture, commerce, education, health, infrastructure, and other sectors that are critical for nation-building. How has the institution fared over the years? How has it contributed to the building of African nations?

Few would argue that building a strong regional development bank for Africa was essential. But such an institution cannot continue to grow without taking stock of itself. It must constantly evaluate what it has done, where it is going, and what it hopes to accomplish. And this is why the Bank has a function called Independent Development Evaluation (IDEV). For more than half of the Bank’s history, IDEV has made significant contributions to the Bank’s trajectory in several key areas: fragile states, gender, agriculture, private sector development, regional integration, and more. As a result of its work, IDEV is a rich repository of knowledge about the Bank’s operations and how the Bank has contributed to the building of African nations. It is in a unique position to help the Bank learn from its own experience.

At this key juncture in the Bank’s history – the Golden Jubilee – when the Bank is reflecting on its past and planning for its future, IDEV is convening evaluation specialists and development practitioners from around the globe to the African Development Bank’s 4th Development Evaluation Week, to share lessons from 50 years of development work and propose innovative solutions for the way forward. On this special occasion, Evaluation Week will be a two-day forum. 

The AfDB Evaluation Week is a knowledge-sharing event that offers development actors from across the globe an opportunity to examine development work – both successes and failures – through an evaluation lens. Learning from both successes and failures will help all partners avoid costly mistakes and increase the effectiveness of development actions.

Discussions draw on lessons from the past interventions of development partners and practitioners and highlight good practices that can inform future development work. The event focuses on what works, what does not work, and why, and on the identification of trends, new ideas, and actions that can bring about change and improve development effectiveness. Ultimately, Evaluation Week provides greater insights into development work and generates innovative solutions to development challenges.

Evaluation Week started with the organization in 2006 of the first Operations Evaluation Department (OPEV) Award. This event eventually became the AfDB Evaluation Week – a gathering of AfDB evaluation and development stakeholders as well as development actors from around the world. Evaluation Week is one of the ways in which Independent Development Evaluation (IDEV) achieves its strategic objectives of enhancing learning from experience, providing a basis for accountability, and promoting an evaluation culture.