Formal Opening of the African Development Bank 2011 Annual Meetings in Lisbon

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The opening ceremony for the Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) took place on 9 June 2011 at the Lisbon Congress Centre, Lisbon, Portugal.

The dignitaries presiding over the ceremony were the President of the African Development Bank, Mr Donald Kaberuka: His Excellency, Mr Luis Amado, Minister of State and Foreign Affairs, the Government of Portugal: Mr Fernando Teixera dos Santos, Chairperson, Boards of Governors, AfDB Group: Mr Abdoulie Janneh, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, and Ms Cecilia Akintomide, Secretary-General of the AfDB.

Mr Kaberuka made a speech in which he summed up the economic and social situation in Africa and its prospects for growth.  He also summed up the record and achievements of the AfDB during the year 2010.

On Africa, he said the continent was bouncing back from the global financial crisis.  The continent was “bruised but fitter”, he said, adding:”We remain very optimistic about the prospects for the African economy, provided the international situation does not worsen but remains benign” He said Africa’s economies were forecast to grow by between 5.6 percent and 6 percent annually.

Mr Kaberuka emphasized, however, that economic growth in Africa had not benefitted all the African people, and that the task ahead was to ensure more inclusive growth, so that all people should share in the prosperity growth can bring.

Also, he remarked, economic growth was not enough to meet the aspirations of Africans, particularly the young, who were not impressed by mere statistics.  Recent unrest in some countries was not just about “bread and butter”, but also about freedom, opportunities, aspirations and democracy.  The starting point for inclusive growth, he said, was strong, accountable institutions.

On the AfDB, he said 2010 had been a “successful but momentous year”.  He said the Bank was in robust health and had made a solid performance.  This was in spite of the turbulences of the revolution and its aftermath in Tunisia – the AfDB’s current temporary headquarters country.

Mr dos Santos echoed some of Mr Kaberuka’s remarks.  He noted that there were signs of economic recovery in world trade, and that the African economy was doing well, partly due to external factors, but also because of internal changes such as structural reforms.  He too emphasized the importance of economic growth in job creation.

Mr Amado remarked that this was the first time that the AfDB had held its Annual Meetings in Lisbon, and only the second time it had done so in Europe.  He welcome the AfDB’s presence in Europe at a time when there had developed a “changed paradigm” between Europe and Africa over the past decade.

There were different linkages, he said, compared to the old historic links between the two continents.  For instance, European and African officials now meet as counterparts of the European Union and the African Union.

At the end, the dignitaries – joined by the chief executive of Portugal’s Post Office  – launched a commemorative postcard featuring the AfDB’s logo and 2011 Annual Meetings design work.