The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group, on Monday, December 1, 2008, in Tunis signed a technical cooperation agreement establishing a new bilateral € 2 million trust fund with the Portuguese government. "The signing of this technical cooperation agreement is very timely as the new resources from Portugal will be used to finance consultancy services and technical assistance in priority areas identified under the Bank’s Medium-Term Strategy, especially with regard to private sector development, infrastructure, renewable energy and energy efficiency, good governance and capacity building, agriculture and water," an AfDB expert said. The fund may also be of great use when it comes to enhancing Bank operations in Portuguese-speaking countries and improving the Bank’s Portuguese language capacity. Signing on behalf of the Bank, AfDB Vice President, Joseph Eichenberger, thanked the Portuguese government for agreeing to completely untie this Fund, whereas the previous Fund was 100% tied. "You have entrusted the Bank with the fiduciary responsibility of this grant, and we will fulfill this," he said, commending the Portuguese government for supporting the ongoing technical cooperation fund reform programme. This is an important milestone to our bilateral cooperation which started in 1982 when Portugal became a state participant of the African Development Fund (ADF)," Mr. Eichenberger said. Mr. Nuno Sousa Pereira, Director General for Strategic Planning, Economic Policy and International Affairs at the Portugal Ministry of Finance and Public Administration, representing the finance minister, who signed for his country, said "the agreement is important. It is a step forward helping AfDB’s skills expertise, adding that "We hope to give a contribution in terms of supporting the Bank’s choice". Mr. Pereira concluded by expressing his appreciation for the relations between the Bank and Portugal. It should be recalled that, following the Board’s approval of the technical cooperation fund reform programme in September 2006, Portugal expressed its intention to provide the Bank with a € 2 million bilateral trust fund over a five-year period, which will be governed by the proposed technical cooperation agreement. The previous cooperation arrangement between the Bank and Portugal was signed on March 22, 1985, for a financial contribution of PTE 279 million (3.59 million Euros), which is fully committed to supporting 24 projects. The Bank is expected to serve as the grant trustee to ensure transparent and results-oriented management of the resources, as stipulated in the draft technical cooperation agreement. Management of the bilateral trust fund will be in line with the guiding principles of the technical cooperation fund reform. The current agreement was signed in the presence of the AfDB Executive Director for Portugal, Birgit Gerhardus, and the AfDB Partnerships and Cooperation Unit Head, Kazumi Larhed.