AfDB Will Strive to Meet Africa’s Expectations - President Kaberuka

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Two days of brainstorming on major economic issues facing Africa have ended, in Dakar, Senegal, where the Board of Governors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group approved the institution’s Annual Report for 2008 and 2009 work plan.

The 2009 AfDB Group Annual Meetings were held within a specific international context - the international crisis and its impact on Africa. Finance ministers, representing 77 member-countries of the Bank Group, governors, heads of state, various experts, international development institutions and government officials shared their perspectives on the crises and on AfDB initiatives at seeking short-term solutions.

At the closing session attended by representatives of the Senegalese President, the AfDB Governor for Cote d’Ivoire, African ministers, the diplomatic corps and the international media, among others, AfDB President, Donald Kaberuka, expressed his satisfaction with the results obtained and the ideas and proposals “that will inspire us in the coming years”.

Essentially, the key points of the 44th Annual meetings included a proposal for the AfDB to initiate discussions on the Bank’s Sixth General Capital increase, and in reviewing the capital increase, special attention should be paid to the poorest countries. The meetings also addressed  the need for the Bank Group to prioritize its medium- and long-term governance strategy, the private sector, climate change and the environment as well as infrastructure financing.  On that note, Mr. Kaberuka thanked donor countries for their availability and for maintaining their commitment to assist poor countries in their development efforts.

In their various interventions, AfDB governors commended Bank Group management for the initiative it took to help its regional members countries cope with the current crisis. Accepting messages of appreciation from various delegates at the meeting, Mr. Kaberuka acknowledged contributions by the institution’s top management and staff.  

In response to whether the AfDB has the capacity to implement all the new initiatives, Mr. Kaberuka said: “Given the hope African countries have placed in the Bank, we must build our capacities to meet their expectations”. He informed the assembly that a study to evaluate the effectiveness of decentralization was underway, adding that its results would guide the Bank Group in taking appropriate steps to bring the institution closer to its regional member countries.

He acknowledged the Boards of Directors’ support to Bank Group initiatives and their encouragement to continue implementing them. He told the meeting that the global crisis required urgent action. He said Africa would overcome the problems posed by the crisis, “if the right things are done”. These things, he continued, include protecting achievements, preventing serious damage and balancing short-term responses with long-term strategies.

In its efforts to tackle the crisis and meet the growing needs of its regional member countries, the Bank Group had, in 2008, organized a meeting of African Finance Ministers in Tunis and set up a Committee of Ten to analyze its impact, provided support to the Committee and the African delegation that attended the G-20 Summit in London earlier this year. It developed appropriate instruments to help check the crisis including the setting up of the Emergency Liquidity Facility and Trade Finance Facility. It had, in the same vein, taken action to ensure rapid disbursement of ADF resources.

To enable the Bank fulfill other expectations of the meeting and accelerate action on African development, Mr. Kaberuka said: “We are prepared to consider the augmentation of resources if and when the case can be made conclusively.”

Speaking on behalf of Senegalese President, Abdoulaye Wade, Senegal’s Economy and Finance Minister, Abdoulaye Diop, thanked the AfDB for its interventions. He called on African countries to step up their efforts and collaborate in tackling the economic crisis, stressing that “Africa’s future is in its own hands”.

For his part, the AfDB Governor of Cote d’Ivoire, Paul Antoine Bohoun-Bouabré, said his country was pleased that Côte d’Ivoire had been selected as the venue for the next AfDB Annual Meetings slated for May 27-28, 2010, in Abidjan.