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African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina and South African Minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba, signed a Host Country Agreement on Friday, August 18, establishing the Bank’s Southern African Regional Development and Business Delivery Office in Pretoria, the country’s capital. The office will serve as one of five regional hubs for the pan-African development finance institution operations serving South, North, East, West and Central Africa.
The signature marked a key milestone for the Bank in its drive to streamline business processes, improve efficiency and financial performance, increase development impact, and move the Bank’s operations much closer to its clients so as to improve delivery.
In 2016, the African Development Bank formally launched a new path to deliver development impact for the people of Africa, with approval by the Bank’s Board of Directors of the institution’s new Development and Business Delivery Model (DBDM) and a Decentralization Action Plan.
In his address, President Adesina explained the Bank’s rationale for decentralization, “Our goal is to get closer to our regional member countries, decentralize decision-making and accelerate project and program development, financing and disbursements. In short, we wanted to play on the front lines, not from the headquarters in Abidjan, so we can score more developmental goals for Africa.”
This approach is already yielding results, with the time between approvals and first disbursement declining by 41%, he said.
The Development and Business Delivery Model is closely aligned with the Bank’s Ten Year Strategy and its five development priorities for the continent, the High 5s – Light up and power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialise Africa, Integrate Africa and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.
“South Africa is an engine of regional integration in Southern Africa, accounting for over 50% of the GDP of the SADC region,” President Adesina said during the signature event hosted by the Ministry of Finance. “South Africa’s energy, port, freight rail, and aviation sectors are key drivers of regional integration in the southern region and beyond. Its financial and retail sectors are significant across sub-Saharan Africa.
“We believe that the location of the Bank Group’s Southern African Regional Development, Integration and Business Delivery Office in South Africa will help both the Bank and the Government to accelerate economic development and poverty alleviation in South Africa and the region.”
Besides South Africa, the Bank’s Regional Office will be responsible for the institution’s operations in 12 other countries – Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, São Tomé and Príncipe, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, as well as the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Secretariat.
Minister Gigaba thanked the African Development Bank and President Adesina for the institution’s longstanding support for the country and the region. “For South Africa, this is a great moment. We believe this is a significant milestone in assisting with Africa’s development. We believe South Africa, as the most advanced economy in the region, has an important role to play in mobilising resources for much needed infrastructure development, as well as drive investment in agriculture and tourism for the entire region.” The Minister added: “South Africa is committed to supporting the mandate of the African Development Bank, and we look forward to strengthening this partnership.”
The Bank has made commitments of more US $10 billion in the 13 countries covered by the Southern Africa Regional Office in support of the national development priorities of each member country, with development interventions in South Africa alone accounting for more than 50 per cent of regional investments.
Cooperation between the Bank and South Africa began in December 1995. Since then, the African Development Bank has provided significant development financing in the form of loans and grants to support the country’s development agenda.
Since 1998, the African Development Bank has provided cumulative resources amounting to US $5 billion to support development projects in South Africa both in the public and the private sectors. Ongoing Bank projects in South Africa comprise 23 operations with a total commitment of approximately US $4.8 billion. The bulk of those resources has gone towards projects in the power sector, representing 64% of the entire commitment, followed by finance, transport and mining.
While in South Africa, Adesina will participate in the 37th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Southern Africa Development Community in Pretoria on August 19 and 20.