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The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group DAI establishes the types of information which can be disclosed to the public, as well as the procedures for disclosure. The policy is based on the principle that the Bank Group, as a public and development institution, should be open and transparent in its operations. Under the policy, there is a presumption that all the information held by the Bank can be shared with the public unless it falls under one of the policy exceptions listed in paragraph 3.3. The policy embodies the Bank Group’s desire to deepen and increase information disclosure to enhance transparency and accountability.
The current policy significantly expands and speeds up access to information. This is done principally through a change that allows the Bank to disclose any information in its possession that is not on a list of exceptions, as opposed to detailing specific information that must be disclosed. Under the new policy, it is expected that significantly more information on AfDB operations and Board proceedings will be available to the public.
There are some restrictions to information disclosure, to protect the functioning of the Bank Group and the relationship between the Bank Group and its shareholders and partners. In some instances, disclosure could result in material, financial or reputational harm to the Bank Group, Management or staff. For instance, AfDB shall protect the privacy of its staff as well as confidential business information of its private sector clients. Similarly, the Bank Group needs to hold frank and candid discussions internally and with its members and partners and therefore it must safeguard the integrity of its deliberative processes.
The DAI Policy was approved following an extensive consultative process. Public consultations took place during the Bank’s 2010 Annual Meetings in Lisbon, Portugal, as well as in Senegal, South Africa, Sudan and Tunisia. An online comment period was also available for the public to comment on the draft policy. The final policy reflects valuable inputs from member countries, civil society organizations, academics, the private sector and partner organizations.
AfDB’s DAI Policy supersedes the previous disclosure policy (2005). It is effective on February 3, 2013. Documents produced before the effective date can also be made available on request if not restricted under the DAI Policy.
Bank staff members are responsible for classifying and disclosing the information they produce or receive in accordance with the DAI Policy disclosure requirements. Information classified as “public” shall be disclosed on the AfDB website immediately, or may be made available upon request. Information classified as “confidential” according to the policy may be disclosed after five, 10 or years, according the Bank’s declassification schedule. Information classified as “strictly confidential” will not be disclosed. While the AfDB website constitutes the main disclosure avenue, other suitable means will be used by the Bank to reach intended audiences in-country.
The Bank’s official website, is the principle means for the Bank to communicate with its clients and stakeholders. As such, the website is critical for the disclosure of information. Documents related to the Bank’s activities by country, topic and sector can be located here.
Requests for information and documents must be made in writing and should be as specific as possible. Requests must be submitted using the online request form at Information Request Form. Requests may also be directed to the field office or Public Information Centre (PIC) in the country concerned (see contact details at Field Offices and Public Information Centres). Persons seeking information on the Bank’s operations and activities can also visit the Public Information Centre (PIC) located at the Bank Group’s Temporary Relocation Site in Tunis. Other inquiries could also be addressed to the DAI team.
The Bank makes every effort to respond to requests as quickly as possible, usually no later than 20 working days after the request is received.
You have the right to request any information held by the Bank. However, while the policy presumes in favour of disclosure, documents which fall under a category of information protected by a policy exception will not be disclosed as it may harm the Bank Group’s specific interests and the relationship between the Bank Group and its members and partners. In its response, AfDB will either provide the requested information (downloadable file on the Bank’s external website whenever possible), or the policy-based reason supporting denial of requested information.
The Policy explicitly sets out eight categories of information that cannot be disclosed (detailed in paragraph 3.3 of the DAI Policy):
If you believe that the Bank has improperly or unreasonably denied access to information, you can file an appeal.
The DAI Policy recognizes the right to an appeals process when a request for information has been denied by Bank staff. A requester whose request for information has been denied can file an appeal if he/she requester can: (i) show that the Bank has omitted to publish information mandated for disclosure in the policy or that his/her request for information has been unreasonably denied by Bank staff on the first place; or (ii) make a public interest case to override the Policy exceptions.
Requestors may appeal in writing AfDB’s denial decisions to the internal Information Disclosure Committee within 50 days. If the Committee confirms denial of requested information, requestors may file in writing another appeal with the Appeals Panel, comprising a majority of external members, within 50 days. If the Panel reverses the Bank Group’s denial decisions, the requestor’s remedy will be limited to receiving the information requested. Specific procedures on recourses against denied requests, including eligibility of appeals, can be found in the DAI Policy paragraph 4.5.
The DAI Policy expands the amount and types of information to be disclosed to include project aide-memoires (with country consent), project summary notes and subsequent updates for private sector projects, annual audited financial reports prepared by borrowing countries for public sector projects, etc. It also provides for simultaneous disclosure of certain types of documents at the time of their distribution to the AfDB Board of Directors for consideration, to increase participation of external stakeholders in the Bank’s decision-making process (e.g. country strategy partnerships and loan proposals for public sector projects subject to country no objection; Bank operational policies and sector strategies).
AfDB Management will monitor and report on disclosure compliance to the Bank’s Board of Directors annually. Monitoring systems will be established to monitor and track disclosure of information on the AfDB website, as well as requests received, including response timelines.
Questions regarding the Policy for Public Disclosure of Information can be addressed to the DAI team.