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AfDB Group: The first 50 years

AfDB is the continent’s largest development finance institution

Fifty years ago, on 4 November 1964, Ministers from 23 then independent African States convened in Lagos, Nigeria, for the inaugural meeting of the Board of Governors of the African Development Bank. The young Institution was assigned a dual mandate: the social and economic transformation of Africa, and the economic integration of the Continent.

That mission is as relevant today as it was then. What started as a continental partnership among a handful of African countries has emerged as one of Africa's most effective (…)

Donald Kaberuka, AfDB President, 2005-2015

The African Development Bank is a model of how Africa and the developed world can work together for mutual benefit and with mutual respect

        Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda

What is the AfDB?

AfDB's prime objective is to mobilize financial resources to support sustainable economic and social development in Africa. To do this, the Bank raises funds from inside and outside the continent to finance development projects such as roads, hospitals and schools, agricultural projects and electricity.

AfDB from1964 to 2014:


From 23 to 79member



From 10 to 2000 

staff members


4.185 Projects,

loans and grants


1.000 bn USD 

cumulated loan


Watch the AfDB 50th anniversary official video

As we grow up, our needs change. For that reason, with the Bank, we work on innovative instruments.

        Kweku Ricketts-Hagan, Deputy Minister of Finance, Ghana

Africa/AfDB Timeline




PHOTO: Romeo Horton (center), of Liberia, leader of the “Committee of nine”


Conference of Ministers established committee from 9 countries to prepare for the creation of AfDB


In Khartoum, on 4 August, 23 states signed the Agreement Establishing the ADB


“The Governments on whose behalf the Agreement was signed were determined to strengthen African solidarity by means of economic cooperation between African states, and therefore agreed to establish hereby the African Development Bank with the objective of contributing to the sustainable development and social progress of the African member countries”.


300 million people

US$ 39.2 billion GDP

Bank members: 26

September 10: Birth of AfDB

November 4-7: Board of Governors inaugural meeting in Lagos, Nigeria

Mamoun Beheiry (Sudan) elected 1st President


March: Headquarters opened in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire


Bank staff: 10

Board of Governors 1st meeting in Abidjan

July: Official start of operational activities


PHOTO: Mamoun Beheiry signing the first two Bank operations: an equity participation in the National Development Bank of Sierra Leone, and a loan to finance the construction of a road in Kenya

Bank loans/grants: US$ 2.3 million


PHOTO: A project in agriculture sector, in Liberia

First Bank projects in Agriculture and in Water supply


Bank loans/grants: US$ 7.9 million First Bank projects in Power supply and in Finance


PHOTO: Infrastructure project in Central African Republic Abdelwahab Labidi (Tunisia) elected 2nd President. The Bank intensified its contacts and search for business and got more project proposals.


The Bank continues to extend its loans, with special focus on the six Sahelian countries: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal. The Sahelian countries were hit hard by drought and required both humanitarian assistance and long-term financing to improve their food security.


African Development Fund (ADF) created. The role of the ADF is to establish a ‘soft’ window for lower income countries, contributing to poverty reduction and economic and social development by providing concessional funding for projects and programs


Bank loans/grants: US$ 135.5 million 1st General Capital Increase (US$ 206 million) ADF began operations


PHOTO: Laying of the first stone of the AfDB Headquarters building, in Abidjan. On the right, the second President of the Bank, Abdelwahad Labidi of Tunisia. The Board of Governors approved the establishment of the Nigeria Trust Fund First Bank projects in Education and Health sectors.


PHOTO: Kwame Donkor Fordwor (Ghana) elected 3rd President.


PHOTO: Telecommunications project in Swaziland


The Board of Governors approved in principle the admission of non-regional countries to the Bank’s membership. Negotiation with non-regional countries began.


Bank loans/grants: US$ 519.9 million Goodall Gondwe (Malawi) Acting President The two oil price shocks of 1973 and 1979 had a strongly adverse impact on African economies. African countries were persuaded to seek external resources, and eventually the Bank decided to open its capital to non-African members.


Willa Mung’Omba (Zambia), elected 4th President


17 Non-Regional Members attended their first AfDB Group Annual Meetings as full Members The admission of the non-regional countries helped to improve the financial position of the Bank, and consequently its rating by international financial markets.


Bank loans/grants: US$ 879.3 million


Babacar Ndiaye (Senegal) elected 5th President


4th General Capital Increase of US$ 22.3 billion (200% increase)


PHOTO: Côte d’Ivoire President Félix Houphouet-Boigny hosting an African Development Bank delegation in his private residence in Cocody, Abidjan. The first President of Côte d’Ivoire played a key role in the establishment of the Bank, and in the promotion of regional integration. Approval of US$ 13 billion lending program


612 million people US$ 495 billion GDP

Members: 77

Staff: 1100

Number operation (since 1967): 1291

Bank loans/grants (1989): US$ 2.8 billion


25th anniversary celebrations. Report of the Committee of Ten on the AfDB’s future


Babacar Ndiaye re-elected for a second term. During the 1990s, the AfDB diversified its mission and focused on new challenges.


First Bank projects in Micro-Finance


Appointment of Bodour Abu-Affan (Sudan) as first woman Vice President First Bank projects in Environment sector


PHOTO: President N’diaye (left), and the President of Benin Nicéphore Soglo (center) during a symposium organised by AfDB.


Bank loans/grants: US$ 1.4 billion


PHOTO: Omar Kabbaj congratulated by his predecessor, Babacar N’Diay Omar Kabbaj (Morocco) elected 6th President. During his mandate, major issues that received attention included the strengthening of the Bank’s country focus by establishing country teams, aligning the Bank’s interventions with the development priorities of the countries, improving the quality-at-entry of projects, as well as the monitoring and evaluation of projects.


South Africa and Botswana first African countries to contribute to ADF. Agriculture, private sector development and human capital development identified as new strategic sectors for Bank lending.










PHOTO: A view of the AfDB Annual Meeting in Abidjan, 1998.


Bank loans/grants: US$ 1.638.6 million Bank adopts new vision to promote economic growth with equity and poverty reduction as central goals. To this end, Bank resources would target four operational areas: agricultural and rural development; human resources development; private sector development; and good governance.


Omar Kabbaj re-elected for a second term First Bank projects in urban development The United Nations adopt the Millennium Development Goals


First Annual Meetings outside Africa in Valencia, Spain


PHOTO: The Bank’s offices, in Tunis Bank temporarily relocated to Tunisia because of growing political instability in Côte d’Ivoire


Bank loans/grants: US$ 2 691.5 million


Donald Kaberuka (Rwanda) elected 7th President. Kaberuka pushed for far-reaching decentralization of Bank operations to enhance product and service delivery, donor harmonization and policy dialogue.


In the face of the international financial crisis, President Kaberuka, together with leaders of the African Union and the Economic Commission for Africa, was tasked to find ways of alleviating the serious credit, investment and growth constraints that the crisis was imposing on the continent. International financial crisis


Bank loans/grants: US$ 11.8 billion


6th Global Capital Increase of US$ 64 billion Donald Kaberuka re-elected for a second term Africa population reaches 1 billion


AfDB develops short term and long term measures for crisis-resilient growth in North African Arab spring


Establishment of Regional Resource Centers in South Africa & Kenya Bank wins two US Treasury Development Impact Awards (projects in Uganda & Cote d’Ivoire)


ADF-XIII Replenishment of US$ 7.3 billion (to 2016) Bank approved Ten Year Strategy (2013-2022) with the objectives of inclusive growth and transition to green growth”


1,136 million people US$ 2,476.9 billion GDP

Members: 80

Staff: 1900

Number of operations (since 1967): 4185

Bank loans/grants (2014): US$ 6.5 billion AfDB celebrates its return to Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, after 11 years

PHOTO: The ceremony celebrating the Bank’s return to Abidjan is led by Donald Kaberuka (right) and Daniel Kablan Duncan, Prime Minister of Côte d’Ivoire (left)



Golden Book Download

Click here to download the AfDB 50th anniversary Golden Book

50 years, 50 images… a panorama of what we do

AfDB - 50th anniversary photo exhibition