The 2019 Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank Group will be held from 11-14 June 2019, in Malabo, Republic of Equatorial Guinea. Find out more
In early February, in a blog post on the run-up to the international donor roundtable for Guinea-Bissau, I argued that “all parties are aware that in order to move forward not only is money needed, but also compact coordination amongst partners and the government, as well as the assurance that planned projects and programmes are coherent and complementary”.
Last month’s conference was a success, at least in terms of funding pledges. The final communiqué reported, “pledges amounting to over €1 billion were announced at the International Conference in Brussels in support of Guinea-Bissau”. The AfDB is expected to provide and/or mobilise about 10% of the total.
While the pledges are below the approx. €1.6 billion sought after as per the strategic and operational plan, it is a resounding success for the Guinea-Bissauan authorities. First, given the context on the continent, it is an admirable amount. That said, in terms of pledges from the international community, Guinea-Bissau unfortunately “competes” with Mali, Central African Republic, the Sahel humanitarian crisis, and Ebola-stricken countries. It is no secret that donors are overstretched in a sea of competing needs, not to mention their own austerity conditions. While it is not entirely a zero-sum game (where increased funding for one entails reduced funding for another), it is undeniable that available resources are insufficient and that trade-offs are taking place. Second, the pledged amount is quite impressive compared to the country’s current resources, in fact a back-of-the-envelope estimate reveals that the pledges over the next five years are worth approximately 4.5 times the 2015 state budget.
One of the reasons for Guinea-Bissau’s success is that all along the way it has gathered key partners into a consultative group composed of institutions with political mandates such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) or the UN, as well as the country’s largest funding partners (EU, AfDB, World Bank). In addition Guinea-Bissau enjoys firm political support from regional institutions (ECOWAS, West African Economic and Monetary Union), groupings (such as the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries -) and neighbours like Senegal, as evidenced by President Macky Sall’s attendance at the conference.
This success and the amount of funds at stake raise a few questions, critically the question of delivery explored in the pre-conference blog post. And so, it is vital that a number of key steps be taken to move forward:
In the very first public statements after the round-table, Guinea-Bissauan authorities declared it a success. In the same breath, they noted the onus is on themselves to see this success materialise. A journey of a thousand miles does indeed begin with the first step. The donor conference was a baby step as the country embarks on its vision for 2015-2025. The journey ahead is long. Next steps will require creating conditions to implement the strategic and operational plan.