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2008 AfDB Annual Meetings Open in Maputo
Turkey Joins Bank Group
Maputo, Mozambique, 14 May 2008 – The 43rd Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the 34th Board of Governors meeting of the African Development Fund (ADF) began on Wednesday, 14 May 2008, in Maputo, Mozambique, in the presence of host President, Armando Emilio Guebuza, and President Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Republic of Congo among other eminent personalities of corporate finance.
In a speech formally declaring the meeting open, President Guebuza commended the Bank Group’s interventions in domains critical to Mozambique’s and Africa’s economic growth and wellbeing such as agriculture and rural development, social and economic infrastructure as well as education, health and water supply.
"By integrating these areas in its programmes, the African development Bank Group has confirmed its status as a major partner to our governments and in so doing, contribute in creating the necessary conditions for the promotion of our people’s wellbeing," he said.
He called for the intensification of the partnership with the Bank Group as interlocutor, adviser, financier and "connoisseur" of Mozambique’s political, economic and social reality" with particular emphasis on rural development.
"In Mozambique, we proclaim that development should have the rural areas as the starting and arrival point. We will only overcome the challenges that this agenda of economic emancipation imposed on us if we make the rural areas the basis for planning and development," President Guebuza emphasized.
President Donald Kaberuka, for his part, highlighted Bank Group activities in the past year, including positive outcomes such as Turkey’s admission into the Bank Group, the record US$ 8.9 billion replenishment of the ADF and the decision of the Nigerian Government to extend the Nigerian Trust Fund (NTF), saying these developments would strengthen the Bank and provide the resources required to tackle some of the critical development challenges facing regional member countries.
President Kaberuka spoke about existing challenges and new risks facing the continent such as the negative impacts of climate change on agriculture as well as rising fuel and food prices. However, he noted that African countries were capable of turning the table in the same way that Vietnam, a net exporter of illegal immigrants, the "Boat People" fleeing deprivation and famine 15 years ago, did to become a high performer in agriculture, providing 94% of its population with electricity.
On the Bank Group’s 2007 Balance sheet, he disclosed that the year had been a good one for the Bank Group in spite of the turbulence in the financial world.
"Our risk bearing capacity remains robust. We have retained the highest ratings and all the windows of the Bank have reported strong results. Net income is up 66 percent and so are our operational commitments by 20%.
"We are beginning to see encouraging results in the quality of our portfolio, such as the level of disbursements, and the decline in aging or problem operations," Mr. Kaberuka noted.
The AfDB President also advised the Bank Group’s shareholders of the report by an Independent High Level Panel on the future of the Bank, its new operational strategies and policies; especially with regard to infrastructure, where its operations rose two-fold, middle income countries (the growth poles that account for 61% of operations) as well as low-income countries and fragile states that require considerable support.
Other areas of Bank Group focus include the food crisis and the need to intensify and diversify interventions in the domain of agriculture, especially the need to leverage the role of gender in the sector.
"As we rethink agriculture, this is the opportunity to clearly bias policy in favour of more than half of Africa’s farmers, the old women and young girls tilling the land with bare hands to scrape a leaving, he said, adding "Recovery of our Agriculture, which does not frontload the interest of the women majority farmers, is doomed to fail," Mr. Kaberuka said.
The AfDB Group President stressed the importance of improving energy and related infrastructure, noting that Africa south of the Sahara (excluding South Africa) has only about 28 gigawatts of electricity. He explained that this quantity was less than what Poland generates, adding that Africa needed a minimum of an additional 4 GW per year.
"Our economies are now growing at 6% which is double the 3% in 2000. It is not simply about world demand for our commodities. It is about the cumulative efforts of our people for peace, stability which is creating confidence and hope which is now attracting investment from all corners of the world. The African development Bank, your Bank, stands ready, as it has done over four decades to play its modest part...," Mr. Kaberuka said.
More than 1,000 people, including Governors (finance and/or economy ministers) representing 78 member countries of the Bank Group as well as heads of multilateral development agencies, civil society groups, NGOs and business people are participating in the meetings, the most important annual gathering of finance and development experts in Africa.