Tunis, 8 April, 2011—In an effort to strengthen the quality of its direct on-the-ground support to regional member countries, the African Development Bank (AfDB) Board of Directors today approved a roadmap for decentralization of its operations over the next five years. The exercise revolves around three key pillars: strengthening the Bank’s existing field offices, expanding its presence in fragile states, and consolidating regional capacity.
The decentralisation exercise entails the opening of four new AfDB field offices in Burundi, Central Africa Republic, Liberia and Togo, all of which are classified as fragile states. In addition, the Bank will re-classify its regional offices in Gabon and the Democratic Republic of Congo as country offices and designate at least two existing field offices as regional resource centres on a pilot basis.
The strengthening of field offices will be done by increasing staffing and portfolio management and implementation responsibilities. This will give the Bank an expanded role in analytical work to support its policy dialogue with its client governments and the donor community.
By expanding its presence in fragile states, the AfDB expects to improve its portfolio management, support weak government capacity and promote better donor coordination and harmonization. This enhanced presence in fragile states will further strengthen the AfDB’s ability to respond to the specific needs of these countries and deepen its analytical work in them.
The third pillar of the exercise entails consolidating regional capacity by reorganizing current regional offices and using a phased approach to establish at least two regional resource centres on a pilot basis by 2012. Each of these will be headed by a regional director.
AfDB President Donald Kaberuka said: “There are clear benefits of decentralisation. The overriding value comes through improved portfolio quality, better project design and supervision, faster implementation and procurement, and enhanced dialogue and knowledge to deepen our analytical work and advisory services. As Africa’s premier development finance institution, decentralization will enhance the quality of the services we provide to our regional member countries.”
The AfDB’s decentralisation process began in 2000 with initial steps to increase field presence in regional member countries. The Bank accelerated the process in 2006 from five to 24 offices in response to greater demand from its clients and shareholders. The Bank’s management has since implemented institutional reforms that have greatly enhanced the effectiveness of decentralisation.
Notwithstanding the move to now step up the process with the newly approved decentralisation roadmap, the AfDB will continue to maintain a strong “One Bank” policy, ensuring cohesion and uniformity between headquarters and field offices.