President Donald Kaberuka affirms the AfDB’s confidence in Ivory Coast

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African Development Bank (AfDB) Group President Donald Kaberuka spoke at the Opening Ceremony of the 4th “Invest in Côte d’Ivoire Forum” in Abidjan on January 29 in the presence of the Ivoirian Prime Minister, Daniel Kablan Duncan, and political and economic representatives from Côte d’Ivoire and abroad.

The meeting, with the theme of “Private sector: A lever for successful regional integration,” brought together nearly 3,000 participants from 113 countries.

“The advances in Côte d’Ivoire are real and visible,” Kaberuka said at the outset of his speech, expressing his appreciation of the efforts of the Ivoirian authorities and people as a whole for their reconstruction work, their economic relaunch and for the excellent results achieved in such a short time. He also saluted the return to political stability, the growing pace of economic reform, and the country which is positioning itself “very well” in the sub-region.

This new upsurge by the Ivory Coast is part of a dynamic that one can observe in much of Africa, said Kaberuka, noting that, with the exception of countries in crisis, is at a major turning point. In fact, and for the first time in three decades, the majority of African countries are experiencing growth broadly higher than population increase, he added.

Kaberuka did, nonetheless, add the qualification that “Africa still has a long way to go to achieve its transformation, create the jobs our young people need, and increase its participation in global value chains. That is why we must make a clear distinction between necessary economic growth and economic transformation, which is the strategic goal,” he said.

With regard to the forum, Kaberuka called on its participants to analyze the investment landscape together and explore the opportunities presented by the Ivory Coast’s reconstruction and economic relaunch. There was also a need, he added, to work out how to transform certain constraints into business opportunities.

“To the investors present here, I have just one message,” he said: “You will be right to have confidence in the Ivory Coast. The AfDB strongly believes in this country,” he continued. “That is why, after a decade in which we had to relocate our institution because of the crisis in the country, we have just started our return to the Bank’s headquarter here in Abidjan. I am here with our teams to discuss with the Government how best to structure our operations, to make this country even more attractive and competitive.”

The AfDB has a presence in financing the Ivory Coast’s economy through its public sector and private sector arms, particularly in the area of infrastructure, and it is involved in key projects such as the Azito and CIPREL power stations, and the Henri Konan Bédié Bridge and road projects.

Kaberuka added that the African Development Bank is willing to consider accompanying viable projects, which, if certain conditions are met, will benefit from the Bank’s experience and have its finance tools at their disposal.

Appreciating the reforms undertaken by the Ivory Coast to improve the business climate, Kaberuka emphasized three key points which need constant improvement: security, the judiciary system and the public sector.

Kaberuka also dwelt on the need for regional integration in Africa for growth that takes sufficient account of issues of inclusion and equal opportunity for all.

He also proposed strengthening the Bank’s partnership with investors as part of its private sector arm. This arm grants loans, guarantees and other products up to an amount of approximately $2 billion each year.

Finally, Donald Kaberuka reiterated the willingness of the Bank, a leading African institution, to work closely with Côte d’Ivoire.