AfDB and Libya Expand Scope of Partnership

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An official visit to Libya by the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group President, Donald Kaberuka, and his delegation on December 14, 2008, constitutes an important phase in the strengthening of relations between the AfDB and one of its most important shareholders - Libya. Libya holds 3.82% of the institution’s shares, placing it fifth among AfDB’s regional member countries and eighth among the institution’s seventy-seven member countries.

Discussion’s during Mr. Kaberuka’s visit, prominent among which was the audience with the Libyan Leader, Muammar Qaddafi, enabled both parties to come up with common views on development challenges facing the continent and on the need to help with efforts at enabling the continent deal with the issues, as well as strengthen and expand the scope of their partnership.

During the meeting between both men, the Libyan leader paid tribute to actions by the AfDB and its president, urging the institution to continue making significant contributions to the continent’s development with the same efficiency. He called for greater selectivity in the choice of viable projects whose development impact could help African countries in the management of their debt. Mr. Qaddafi expressed confidence in the Bank’s capacity to play a leading role in major pan-African infrastructure projects. He pointed to three projects which he considered as urgent and critical to the continent and which he urged the AfDB to be involved in.

The projects include the close to 2000 Km highway which is expected to connect Agades and Zender (Libya) to Niger, making it possible to connect North Africa to Sub-Saharan Africa. The second project, the Inga hydroelectric project in DR Congo will, according to the Libyan leader, make it possible to provide the continent with non-oil energy and with the possibility of exporting energy to Europe. Mr. Qaddafi expressed serious concerns about the five countries sharing Lake Chad facing an ecological and humanitarian catastrophe if strong commitments were not made to preserve the lake.

Mr. Kaberuka, for his part, expressed gratitude to the Libyan leader for his country’s strong commitment to the continent’s integration, adding that he was satisfied that the AfDB and Libya had the same concerns. He used the occasion to recall AfDB’s participation in major multinational road projects, the Inga project as well as actions relating to Lake Chad’s preservation.  He recalled that on December 11, 2008, the AfDB Board of Directors had approved a grant of €44 million to finance the Lake Chad Basin Sustainable Development Project.

Mr. Kaberuka also outlined recent initiatives by the AfDB to help the continent deal with the current food and financial crises. He renewed his institution’s readiness to provide Libya with expertise and technical assistance.

AfDB’s expertise, especially with regard to financial management, was requested during discussions with the Libyan Finance Minister and AfDB Governor for Libya, Mohamed Ali Huweij; as well as the Central Bank Governor, Farhat Bengdara.

A meeting between Mr. Kaberuka and the Libya Africa Investment Portfolio (LAIP) President, Bachir Saleh, was followed by a working session that brought together experts of both parties who examined concrete partnership possibilities based on the protocol agreement signed between the AfDB and LAIP in June 2008. The discussions also focused on cooperation with CEN-SAD, especially in the areas private sector financing, agriculture and telecommunications.

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