President Kaberuka Delivers Keynote Message at Montreal Conference, Holds Bilateral Discussions

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President Kaberuka Delivers Keynote Message at Montreal Conference, Holds Bilateral Discussions

A Bank Group delegation headed by President Donald Kaberuka participated in the Montreal Conference which was held from June 04-05. The ADB delegation comprised: Mr. Gabriel NEGATU, Mr. Roger GAILLARD, Ms. Yacin FAL, and Mr. Jacques KABALE. Mr. Francois ARSENAULT, Executive Director, also joined the president during the mission.

Before the Conference, President Kaberuka on Sunday, June 4, held several bilateral meetings and consulted with private sector and government representatives, among others. He met with Messrs. Sebastien Vilder and John LEMIEUX, sponsoring partners of the Montreal Conference; Jean LAMARRE, President of SNC-Lavalin; active players in infrastructure development in Africa; and Mr. Pascal LAMY, WTO Director General with whom he discussed the progress made in concluding current trade rounds as well as on the aid-for-trade agenda. He also held a discussion on the role of Regional Banks and a possible meeting between WTO and key African institutions such as AfDB, AU, ECA and NEPAD on issues relating to African Trade and Development.

He also held bilateral meetings with Jean-Rene HALDE, President of the Canadian Development Bank, on Monday, June 5, on issues of mutual concern to their respective institutions. They discussed possible areas of collaboration between the two institutions.

At the invitation of Canadian authorities and the Organizing Board, President Kaberuka delivered a keynote address during the Montreal Conference Opening Plenary. The 12th Annual Conference which was attended by more than 2000 participants was held under the theme "Development and Partnership: Risks and Success."

In a keynote address titled Seizing the Opportunities in Partnership and Global Prosperity, Mr. Kaberuka observed the current period of unprecedented global prosperity, and underscored the paradox of greater poverty amid increasing wealth which he blamed for the growing insecurity. He called for greater cooperation in order to overcome these challenges. "None of us, however rich or impoverished, powerful or weak, can overcome these challenges alone—we can only do so in partnerships across a wide constellation of human endeavors," he said.

Considering the sharing of economic growth and prosperity as the greatest challenge of our time, Mr. Kaberuka recalled that "addressing these challenge requires intensified global partnership between governments, business and civil society; and demands special efforts in certain excluded parts of our world, in a framework of mutual accountability." Mr. Kaberuka also advised that we had cause to be optimistic and to repudiate past views of Africa as a continent of insurmountable development challenges, stressing that "Africa is beginning to turn the corner." He acknowledged that there were still enormous challenges with regard to consolidating these gains through sustained economic reform and political transitions, indicating that Africans had a great role to play in changing perceptions about the continent. "It can not be over-emphasized that we in Africa bear the first responsibility to deliver on our part of the compact; be ensuring a peaceful, well governed and competitive continent," Mr. Kaberuka stressed. He concluded by highlighting challenges ahead which include progress on trade talks and the need for an aid-for–trade framework; consolidating the governance gains and promoting a positive investment climate; sustaining progress towards closing the infrastructure gap; enhancing regional integration; and skills building and training to take advantage of Africa’s demographic structure.

Following a presentation by a panel of eminent leaders, Mr. Kaberuka on June 5 shared some thoughts and made concluding remarks on governance and leadership challenges facing the continent. Mr. Kaberuka noted that the quality of leadership is vital to good governance and leadership in Africa. He however observed that without good institutions, even good leaders could become bad. "Institutions are equally important—for even good leaders can turn bad in the absence of institutions that serve as countervailing interests," he emphasized.

Underscoring the consensus on the importance of governance leadership in the NEPAD and APRM, he noted that reforms were already bearing fruits.

President Kaberuka also stressed that long-standing conflicts were finding peaceful solutions and increasing numbers of RMCs were acceding to the APRM. He noted that Africa still faced several challenges and that progress still needed to be made in many parts of the region.

Mr. Kaberuka said that the continent was still facing huge challenges such as managing post-conflict situations, building strong capacity for sound policymaking and establishing political institutions that can help the continent forge ahead.

While acknowledging that there were governance and leadership challenges on the continent, President Kaberuka also noted that a few opportunities do present themselves in the process. To this end, he said that the continent was learning from past experiences and from other regions.

In concluding, Mr. Kaberuka stressed that without the necessary political will and responsible leadership to match both internal and external efforts, very little would be achieved on the continent.

Still within the framework of his visit to North America, President Kaberuka met with Ambassador Anne Leahy, Canadian government spokesperson for the Great Lakes. They discussed the Bank’s strategy on Fragile States and Post-conflict Countries which is under preparation. They also discussed the progress under way under the auspices of the UN Special Representative for the Great Lakes and in the context of the Dar es Salaam Declaration, and a possible Bank role in that process.

In Montreal Mr. Kaberuka attended a meeting which discussed HEC’s various training programs which are currently going on in the Bank, and explored possible future Bank training priorities and strategies. He also held bilateral meetings with Mrs. Gagnon-Tremblay, Quebec Minister of International Relations, where they discussed how Quebec could be better involved in the Bank’s work and how RMCs can effectively use Quebec’s expertise and know-how in several sectors through the Bank.

At the invitation of the US Government, President Kaberuka joined African Ministers of Trade and Finance Tuesday, June 6, in Washington DC, on the occasion of the US Sub-Saharan Africa Trade & Economic Cooperation Forum (AGOA-FORUM). The President was accompanied to Washington by Mr. Gabriel NEGATU.

Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSY) Project

Alongside Mr. Gobin Nankani, World Bank Vice President for Africa, Mr. Kaberuka on June 7 joined Mr. Nankani, in chairing a meeting of the EASSY project at the World Bank. The meeting was attended by several African Ministers of Telecommunication and representatives of the private sector involved in laying down the cables as well as bilateral partners. Opening the meeting, Mr. Kaberuka identified the IT project as a rare opportunity providing Africa with the necessary tools that will enable it to leap-frog the development process. He joined Mr. Nankani in expressing a desire to see full implementation of the project, and offered African ministers the commitment of both Banks to be honest brokers between the RMCs and private participants.

In their response, African ministers agreed with the Banks on all the major points, and on the need to operate the project commercially but to also ensure it is implemented in the public’s interest—to assist the poor to progress. Key issues to be resolved among the participating governments, countries and private sector operators include: options for financing modalities for the remaining parts of the projects; option and nature of the internal organization and the special purpose vehicle required to administer the project. At the operational level, RMCs need more support in ensuring in-country and cross-country connectivity; both of which are less lucrative than connectivity along the costs. Meeting participants agreed on the need for balance between all stakeholders, within an acceptable business model and a special purpose vehicle. African ministers will therefore meet in Nairobi with private sector operators in July 2006 to have frank discussions and work out details of the project. In closing the session, Mr. Kaberuka urged African ministers not to let the issue of public-private partnership become a major problem, calling on them to tell the Banks about the type of partnership and balance they want, assuring them that the Banks were ready to follow their lead after the closure of the Nairobi meeting.

AGOA INVESTMENT SUMMIT: Transforming Africa Through Investments

Roundtable: Strategies to Increase Private Equity & Portfolio Investment in Africa

Following a request from the organizers of the AGOA Investment Summit, Mr. Kaberuka joined Mr. Paul Wolfowitz, Work Bank President, as co-chairs of the roundtable discussion. Roundtable panelists included COMESA Secretary General and private equity fund managers. Panel discussions highlighted Africa’s efforts to attract private investments and focused on the need for continued reform as well as the need to stay the course of ongoing reforms. Panelists also discussed opportunities and challenges facing fund managers in Africa, calling for improved and enhanced information flows for would-be investors in the continent.

President Kaberuka Delivers Keynote Address at the AGOA Investment Summit

On the same day (June 07, 2006), President Kaberuka delivered a keynote address at the AGOA Investment Summit luncheon . The President was joined on the podium by Hon. Ambassador Susan Schwab, US Trade Representative Designate; Hon. Mpho Malie, Lesotho’s Minister of trade and Industry; and Hon. Luc M. Atangana, Cameroon’s Minister of Commerce. In his address, the President reminded regional RMCs that "to be competitive, Africa must address the credibility problem—we have to close the gap between policy and practice." He further stressed the need to strengthen institutions as a way to ensure a business- and investment-friendly climate, adding that corruption must be fought. In encouraging African countries to stay the course, Mr. Kaberuka said that even when necessary reforms have been undertaken, private investment would still be slow in coming. In encouraging the investor community to consider Africa as a safe investment destination, Mr. Kaberuka recounted that "considerable investment is coming into sub-Saharan Africa from India, China, some European countries and South Africa. All of them are prudent investors that carefully consider the investment risk in Africa. If the business climate, risk level, and return on investment in Africa is good enough for these countries, surely it must be good for you also."

Mr. Kaberuka concluded his keynote address by restating ADB’s continued commitment to improve the investment climate in RMCs, urging them to try and close the credibility gap in Africa.

While in Washington DC, President Kaberuka held bilateral consultations with several African Ministers of Trade and Finance on issues of trade and economic cooperation. He also held discussions with representatives of sister institutions and private sector representatives operating on the continent. He granted an interview to AllAfrica, an Africa-focused media house based in Washington, DC.