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Shanghai, China, 17 May 2007 – The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group concluded its 2007 Annual Meetings on Thursday in Shanghai, after a meticulous review of the activities and the adoption of the Annual Reports of the three loan windows of the Group and statements for the financial year ended 31 December 2006.
The 42nd Annual Meetings of the Board of Governors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the 33rd Annual Meetings of the Board of Governors of the African Development Fund (ADF), described by President Donald Kaberuka as one of the best organized outings of the institution, also approved the selection of KPM (France) as external auditors of the Bank and the Fund for the financial year 2007 through 2011, replacing Deloitte and Touche, which performed this function over the last ten years.
The Governors (ministers of finance, economy, planning and, in certain cases, Central Bank governors) representing 77-country shareholders of the multilateral finance institution, also elected 14 persons from the member countries to fill slots of members who were leaving the Bank’s 18-person Board of Directors.
The meeting also approved the report of the Governors Consultative Committee (GCC) extending the temporary relocation of the Bank Group’s operations to Tunis for 12 months with effect from 3June 2007 and reaffirmed that "the headquarters of the Bank shall remain in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire". The governors said they had taken note of the progress in the peace process at headquarters and mandated the GCC to hold a meeting in April 2008 to provide guidance to the governors on the issue, noting that "there shall be a 12-month notice period for the institution to return to its headquarters" after a final decision is taken on the matter.
Speaking during a press conference, President Kaberuka commended the "extraordinary success" of the meetings as a result of "unmatched efficiency" demonstrated by the Chinese hosts, noting that the second Annual Meetings of the Group held outside the African continent remains a clear signal of the growing cooperation with China and Asia, among other partners.
Chinese Premier, Wen Jiabao presided over the opening session on Wednesday in the presence of three African heads of State – presidents Pedro Pires of Cape Verde, Marc Ravalomanana of Madagascar and Paul Kagame of Rwanda – as well as two members of the High Level Panel, former President Joachim Chissano of Mozambique and former Canadian Prime Minister, Paul Martin attended the meetings. Four former Bank Group Presidents – Messrs. Omar Kabbaj, Babacar Ndiaye, Wila D. Mu'ngomba and Kwame Fordwor were also present.
Over 2,500 top government officials, business leaders, representatives of NGOs, civil society, as well as members of the academic community and the media participated in the 16-17 May Annual Meetings which were preceded by three days of symposiums and seminars on a host of topical economic, trade, social and environmental issues.
A ministerial round table discussion dealt with the development of partnerships between Africa and Asia trade and capital flows between the two continents. Entrepreneurship, private sector development in Africa, Asian lessons on human capital and technology in development as well as regional cooperation and trans-boundary challenges also came up for discussion.
These were preceded by in-depth discussions on Sino–Africa economic cooperation, followed by the launch of three Bank reports: ‘The African Economic Outlook 2006’, the ‘African Competitiveness Report, 2007’ and results of research on ‘Consumption and Price Levels in African Countries’.
China and the Bank Group organized a photo exhibition and two stand alone seminars on the experiences and achievements in Sino-African cooperation. In addition, the Japanese government, through the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), hosted a seminar on the Asian experience in promoting environmental considerations in sustainable development.
An important highlight was the presentation of the Bank Group’s balance sheet and operations in 2006.
President Donald Kaberuka informed the governors that all three windows of the institution reported a combined income of US$ 372.5 million, with the ADB window accounting for a gross income of US 291 million in fiscal 2006, "I am pleased to report that the financial position of the Bank remains strong and the medium-term outlook robust. The key financial ratios of the Bank have strengthened further and compare favourably with those of other multilateral development banks. The Bank continues to enjoy the highest possible ratings from all the rating agencies who reaffirmed triple AAA and AA+ rating for the Bank’s senior and subordinated debt respectively, with stable outlook," he said.
The President said the outlook for Africa remained positive with 31 countries growing at a rate above that of population increase , half of them above 5% while nine others were growing above 7% . Post-conflict countries like Liberia, Central African Republic, DRC and Burundi, were slowly getting back on their feet. "Perhaps even more significantly, the five countries with the largest populations in which nearly half of Africans live, are registering growth above 5% thereby providing a strong chance of faster reduction in the absolute number of people living in poverty", he said, forecasting growth of up to 6.5% in 2007.
Nonetheless, in spite of the progress registered in some of the countries, millions of Africans still live in countries that are either stagnating, contracting or barely keeping up with population growth; for a number of reasons including fragility, conflict, or policy setbacks.
The scenario is one in which even countries that are supposed to be doing well are still vulnerable to internal and external factors, such that even the 5.5% real GDP growth does not bring the continent anyway near winning the campaign to reduce poverty.
The Annual Meetings also provided a good opportunity for one-on-one negotiations with member countries as well as the signing of loan and grant agreements. On Wednesday it signed an agreement with South Africa for the country’s accession to the African Development Fund (ADF), the concessional window of the Group funded by the 24 Non-Regional Members. Other agreements were signed with Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon and Djibouti granting each of them US$ 500,000 to help finance national efforts against Avian Flu. Later in the day, the Bank also signed an agreement worth US$497,528 with Sao Tome and Principe, as well as with Burkina Faso for 88,859,888 Yen to support poverty reduction efforts in these countries.
Mozambique signed an agreement for a UA17 million to help develop the Missingir dam. Uganda, for its part signed UA30 million agreement for an agricultural infrastructure development program, while Lesotho signed a UA 7 million agreement for an education project and a UA 1.570 million agreement for a road project. Zambia also signed a UA 20 million budget support loan agreement for a poverty reduction project and a UA 15 million for a rural water and sanitation project. Similarly, Mali signed a UA15 million livestock breeding project, while Mauritius received UA30 million to support ongoing economic reforms in the country.
The Board of Governors resolved to hold the next Annual Meetings of the Bank Group in Maputo, Mozambique, on 14-15 May 2008.
*1 UA = US$ 1.52418 = in May 2007