The African Development Bank Group has scaled up its intervention mechanisms in support of the regional members countries to enable them achieve the Millennium Development Goals set out by world leaders at the United Nations in New York in 2000.
The Bank Group’s President, Mr. Omar Kabbaj, enumerated the measures put in place to help African countries achieve the MDGs in a speech he delivered at the Thirty-eight Session of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, which closed in Abuja on Sunday.
Mr. Kabbaj noted that henceforth, international assistance to Africa would need to encompass several dimensions and include higher levels of aid flows, debt relief, trade and technical assistance in order to be effective.
Since 1997, he said, the African Development Fund (ADF), the concessional window of the Bank Group, has raised US$ 13.4 billion from ADF donors. Donors pledged a total of $5.4 billion at the 10th replenishment of the ADF in December 2004, while the Bank Group mobilized an additional $4 billion from the donor community to finance its debt relief operation under the HIPC Initiative.
"In 2004 alone, Bank Group approvals for loans, grants, and debt relief operations reached approximately $4.4 billion, the highest level in the history of the Bank Group," Mr. Kabbaj said.
The Group is also mobilizing resources and putting in place initiatives to help its regional member countries achieve the MDGS. These include the Rural Water and Sanitation Initiative (RWSSI), support to Post-Conflict Countries to enable them clear their debt arrears, leadership role in NEPAD infrastructure and financial standards as well as the adoption of a new strategy to promote the private sector.
The theme of the annual conference, organized back to back with the 2005 Annual Meetings of the ADB for the third year in a row is: Challenge of Achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs in Africa.
More than 30 ministers and central bank governors attended the meetings, reiterating their calls for greater African commitment to the attainment of the MDGs.
The ECA Executive Secretary, Mr. K.Y. Amoako, called on the ministers to make meaningful contributions on how to make progress towards the MDGs to be presented to the Millennium Summit to be held in New York in September 2005.
Sub-Sahara Africa is lagging far behind in global efforts to meet the MDGs by 2015.
The MDGs is the crux of the Millennium Declaration adopted in September 2000 by 189 world leaders who committed themselves to "free all men, women and children from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty" by the year 2015. They enunciated eight MDGs to tackle a variety of issues such as the promotion of education, maternity health care, gender equality, poverty reduction policies, child mortality, AIDS and other fatal diseases.