AfDB Calls for Contributions to the Preparation of the Long Term Strategy

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This is a time of profound change for Africa and the African Development Bank (AfDB). Africa has seen an unparalleled and sustained improvement in growth with an increasing number of countries registering annual growth rates of five percent or more.

High commodity prices have played a role, but so have improved macro-economic policies and sustained reform.  Many countries are making progress towards achieving some of the Millennium Development Goals and strengthening their institutions of governance.

Growth in Africa is projected to remain strong. The IMF expects that seven of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world over the next five years will be African. There has been a reduction in conflict - although there is still too much - which has diminished contagion for neighbouring countries and boosted the perception of Africa as a destination for investment in many sub-regions.

The pace of change has quickened providing new opportunities, but also new challenges. Recent events highlight the uncertainties in the global economy, the challenges posed by the global financial crisis including the current crisis in the Eurozone being the most visible. This is likely to result in stagnation or decline in concessional funding and greater competition for resources from an increasing number of multilateral organisations.

However, the emergence of new economic power houses is reshaping global trade and investment patterns, with emerging economies such as China, India, and Brazil playing a more prominent role in Africa, while donor resources from traditional sources are likely to be constrained in the future.

There is a growing and young population (the youngest region in the world) that is becoming more urbanized with a rapidly expanding number of job seekers. The continent also has an emerging middle class that could help stabilize societies and create new market opportunities, but that is nonetheless vulnerable to shocks that could erase recent income gains.

There has also been an infusion of communication technology creating more awareness, powering demands for accountability, and opening new business opportunities. The continued strong global demand for energy, mineral and agricultural commodities, has created opportunities for growth but posed significant policy and resource management challenges, including on the beneficial use of revenues. More variability in climate as a result of global climate change has put a strain on food security, the productivity of land and economic and social infrastructure.

The AfDB has improved its business processes, including improvements to country and regional strategies, strengthening the AfDB’s country presence, mainstreaming climate change and gender issues. It also has a sound financial base, attested by a number of external and independent reviews.

In short, the position of the AfDB in the international architecture has been transformed: it is a trusted partner for its African clients and external donors. Although there is an unfinished agenda of reform, the AfDB is well on its way to becoming the premier development institution on the continent.

This is an opportune moment therefore for reflection, to see how the AfDB can build on its solid achievements to date and better support and accompany its regional member countries over the next decade. It is within this context that governments in Africa have asked the AfDB to prepare a Long Term Strategy (LTS) covering the next 10 years.

To kick-start the process, the AfDB is embarking on a process of consultation with a broad range of stakeholders. This includes internal consultations with staff and its Board of Directors. It also includes a series of national and sub-regional consultation meetings across and outside the continent with representatives of government, the private sector, civil society, academia, and other interested parties.

In addition to the consultation meetings, the AfDB has also launched the LTS e-consultation portal that seeks for new thinking and input, in particular on the questions framed in the portal. Over time, a number of briefs on specific issues that are intended to provide additional analysis and stimulate further debate will be added. The LTS will capture Africa’s development ambitions and what Africans need to do to achieve them. It will also set out how the AfDB will support Africa’s transformation into a continent that is more prosperous, with markedly lower poverty levels and a more equitable distribution of economic and social opportunities including jobs and income.

The consultations should reflect and make recommendations on fundamental issues such as: the key partnerships that the AfDB should foster to ensure that the continent’s needs are met; the role of the AfDB as a knowledge broker and a source of advice to complement its traditional investment activities; its role in promoting private sector led and inclusive growth; and how it can leverage its own resources to meet the increasing need for resources to finance Africa’s development.

The results of the consultation will be widely disseminated and internalized in the preparation of the strategy. Also, a dialogue on the LTS with the AfDB Governors will be held during the AfDB’s Annual Meetings in Arusha, Tanzania in May before the final LTS is prepared and adopted before the end of 2012.

Your insights and recommendations are valuable to the AfDB and will be a critical input to the final LTS. With this unique opportunity to share ideas on how we can shape the destiny of this continent, join us and let your voice be heard.

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