AfDB, Donors and Partners Discuss Stronger Cooperation

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Some 140 development experts, senior AfDB officials, Bank staff, donors from Europe, Brazil, Canada, Asia , and major international development agencies have gathered in Gammarth, Tunisia, for a two-day discussion that is expected to inform AfDB partners of various cooperation opportunities with the institution. The event, which was opened by AfDB’s Vice President for Country, Regional Programs and Policy, Joseph Eichenberger, provides the Bank and its partners the opportunity to engage in open and frank discussions on governance and financial management, private sector development, higher education and infrastructure development. It will also allow participants to seek ways of strengthening partnerships for economic development and regional integration  on the continent.

Speaking at the opening session, the Bank Group’s Partnerships and Cooperation Unit (ORRU) Head, Larhed Kazumi, identified major donors supporting various Bank Group initiatives, including the Infrastructure Projects Preparation Facility (IPPF), the African Water Facility and the Fragile States Facility. She explained the strategic alignment of various AfDB Trust Funds to key programmes.  She highlighted ORRU operations and responsibilities within the Bank, progress on bilateral funds, achievements, resource gaps, and opportunities for greater cooperation with partners and donors. Mrs. Kazumi also explained the African Development Fund’s (ADF) role vis-à-vis the trust funds, adding that proposals from each country were considered in line with a country’s strategy, the Bank’s focus areas and the project’s alignment with a trust fund. In response to a question on whether the AfDB had a programme to improve communication between its field offices and regional member countries (RMCs), Mrs. Kazumi outlined a series of planned and on-going initiatives, including training programmes for country officers and resident representatives, closer project monitoring and reporting, as well as the installation of IT systems in country offices, among others, with a view to fully engaging the AfDB in RMCs. “We will prioritize these items country-wise,” she said underscoring the Bank Group’s commitment to improving the technical cooperation fund by “accelerating our efforts. We want to continue to mainstream our resources into the core operations of the Bank”.

Asked to describe AfDB interventions and plans in the wake of the global financial crisis, how the Private Sector might be affected, and the possibility of a scale back in funding from donor countries, the Bank Group’s Private Sector Department Director, Tim Turner, said: “We will see how we can stretch our resources and do more with less.” AfDB managers also expressed the need to mobilize and leverage resources and the need for greater donor coordination.  

Donors, for their part, congratulated the AfDB on its initiatives in the private sector and, renewed their interest in supporting the private sector toward mobilizing resources and accelerating economic development in Africa, acknowledging, among other private sector initiatives, the relevance of the Fund for African Private Sector Assistance (FAPA), as a broad-based technical support facility. They also supported the need for the AfDB to establish a micro-finance institution.

Partners, donors and the AfDB discussed ways of developing Africa’s financial sector in order to enhance Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs), progress review results of the trust funds, the Bank Group’s water and sanitation as well as infrastructure strategies, major projects ready for co-financing, the NEPAD-IPPF, other initiatives like the African Water Facility (AWF) and the Water Partnership Programme (WPP), and major partnership and cooperation. opportunities.