AfDB 2010 Annual Meetings Open in Abidjan: African Leaders Commend Bank Performance

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Cote d’Ivoire’s President, Laurent Gbagbo, officially opened the 2010 Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group on Thursday, 27 May 2010 in Abidjan, where he commended the institution’s growing interventions in its regional member countries in recent years.

President Gbagbo particularly expressed his full support to the Bank Group’s priority areas of interventions – infrastructure, regional integration, private sector, higher education and research as well efforts to mitigate the impact of climate change on the continent.

He said that there was no way Côte d’Ivoire, any African country or region can achieve meaningful development without solving the problems posed by the absence of these critical sectors.

Mr. Gbagbo said the government would seek the Bank’s support in these domains, adding that the people and government of Côte d’Ivoire looked forward to the institution’s return to its statutory headquarters in Abidjan, from where it relocated to Tunis in 2003 following the country’s political crisis.

For his part, Malian President, Amadou Toumani Toure, praised the Bank for its interventions in the infrastructure as well as water and sanitation sectors in his country, stressing that the interventions had altered the landscape in some parts of his country to extent that he could hardly recognize previously familiar neighborhoods.

Earlier, AfDB President, Donald Kaberuka, reviewed the institution’s activities in the past year, noting that the Bank had proven its mettle as well as its franchise value to Africa as a  mature institution that knows what to do.

In a 22-page speech entitled “Managing Change and Uncertainty, Unlocking Potential”, Mr. Kaberuka recounted how the institution helped many regional member countries overcome the negative impact of the global financial crisis, providing necessary support to enable African countries to sustainably grow their economies.

He said the Bank provided frontloaded additional budget support, trade finance and liquidity to mitigate the impact of the financial crisis in the institution’s regional member countries. Its private sector window filled the gap left by donors involved in key infrastructure projects. Such support, he said, was flexible, innovative and proactive, reducing reaction time considerably.

“By the end of 2009, we had delivered support equal to 12.6 billion US dollars compared to 5.5 billion in the previous year,” Mr. Kaberuka said, noting that the Bank remained strong with robust finances, focused and effective operations and a changing institution.”

Top on the agenda of this year’s meetings is the election of the Bank Group’s President,  the approval of the its sixth General Capital Increase and the 12th replenishment of the African Development Fund (ADF) as well as the creation of two new constituencies raising the number of board chairs from 18 to 20.

Presidents Yayi Boni of Benin, Faure Gnassingbe of Togo, Amadou Toumani Toure of Mali and former President Festus Mogae of Botswana are attending the meetings.  Also attending are the prime ministers of Burkina Faso, Ghana and Rwanda, among other dignitaries.

Usually held in May, the AfDB Annual Meetings constitute the biggest gathering of financial and development experts on the continent. Finance ministers, senior government officials, business leaders, academics, media experts, representatives of international organizations and the civil society make up the over 1,500 participants attending the meetings.

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