This is Africa’s Hour
A blog by Donald Kaberuka, former AfDB President, 2005-2015
'The sleeping giant' is on its way, and the African trajectory continues upward, with a young and dynamic population. In this occasional blog, I try and share some of the thoughts along the journey – my own, the Bank’s, the continent’s. Read More
When President Obama hosted the historic summit of African leaders in Washington last August, the event was a major contribution to changing the continent’s economic image.
Idah Chilufya is a cross-border trader in the Great Lakes region. She is a fifty-year-old widow with four children. To raise an income selling her two boxes of tomatoes, she has faced daily threats of intimidation, robbery and sexual assault.
Violence against women has to stop. As I’ve stated before: violence against women is violence against all of us.
Today, Publish What You Fund is launching their annual Aid Transparency Index (ATI) in Washington, DC. The ATI is currently the only global measure of aid transparency amongst the world’s largest donors. I’m once again pleased to see that the African Development Bank has performed well, ranking eighth out of 68 organisations assessed, and gaining over 10 percentage points from last year.
Africa’s economy has grown fourfold since the turn of the millennium, with sub-Saharan Africa outperforming the rest of the world in terms of economic growth and at long last banishing any doubts about the continent’s upward trajectory.
At the end of last week I visited Liberia and Sierra Leone, two of the poorest countries in Sub Saharan Africa, and also the most affected by the Ebola outbreak. Ebola has taken over 1500 lives in West Africa, three-quarters of them in those two countries. And the pace appears to quicken: 40% of the cases have appeared in the last three weeks.
50 Africa leaders convene in Washington for a historic meeting with President Obama this week. Pedestrians and motorists caught up in the inevitable traffic jams around the White House may well be asking how far they have got, and where they are heading.
Last week I joined UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, African Union Commission Chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and EU Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs on a visit to the Sahel region.
There are well-worn arguments both about the potential of Africa’s exceptional natural wealth, and the reasons why it fails to deliver. The debate goes on, and intensifies with every new discovery – oil in Ghana, manganese in Gabon, coal in Mozambique, to name a few.
Five years ago, it was the multilateral development banks which played a critical role in tempering the worst effects of the global financial crisis, with counter-cyclical funding, liquidity support, trade finance and other instruments. The African Development Bank doubled its loans and grants between 2008 and 2009. Reflecting the key role that these banks played, the shareholders agreed to increase their capital base, and tripled it for the Asian and African Development Banks.
On Thursday, July 25, I was in Washington for an award ceremony at the US Treasury, in which two African Development Bank projects received recognition. Straight afterwards, I appeared on the Kojo Nnamdi show on Washington public radio alongside Lael Brainard, Under Secretary of State for International Affairs at the Treasury. We were discussing Africa, and its new investment opportunities. The message from both of us was of a resurgent Africa, a place for business and for opportunity, drawing strength from internal positive dynamics and still resilient to the slowdown in the global economy. We both emphasized how the work of the African Development Bank was contributing – in funding, in sharing knowledge, and in mobilizing investment.
‘C’est le temps de l’Afrique’, said Nizar Baraka, Minister of Finance in the Kingdom of Morocco, and the outgoing chair of the African Development Bank’s Board of Governors. ‘This is Africa’s hour.’
AfDB's Annual Meetings - The Afro-optimist, the Afro-realist: Historic Progress, Historic Challenges
The 48th Annual Meeting of the African Development Bank – and the 39th of the African Development Fund – were officially launched under the high patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco this morning. The King himself may only have been able to send us a message – we are “a solid, reliable and strategic ally”, he said – but he sent hundreds of his subjects. And, with hundreds more from each of the Bank’s 77 member countries, there must have been 1,500 people in the audience as I looked out and squinted under the lights at the podium.
Discussions continue throughout the night at the Bank’s Annual Meetings in Marrakesh: some may be had around the dinner table, but most are round the desk. Keyboards are pounded, while mobile phones reverberate. I stopped working on my opening ceremony speech at just before 3 o’clock this morning, and had been on the phone to at least five of my staff in the hours after midnight.
These are my eighth African Development Bank’s Annual General Meetings as President, and I remain convinced that they are a convening place for the very best of this continent, and its friends from further afield. The public sector, the private sector and civil society meets here, and the fourth estate – the press – are here in force to hold us to account. This is the great event not just in the Bank’s but in Africa’s calendar, when all the work we do on the ground in our member countries – finding and funding projects which transform the lives of Africans – gets its rightful place in the sun. We share ideas of what the Bank and Africa have done well, and more importantly what they can still do better. Driving from Casablanca to Marrakesh last night, I was more than conscious of both. My senior management were with me for what turned out to be a lively dinner: we are passionate with plans.