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AfDB’s New Disclosure and Access to Information Policy - Shift to Larger Openness and Transparency

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The African Development Bank (AfDB)’s new Disclosure and Access to Information (DAI) Policy, which is intended to enlarge public access to information, entered into effect on February 3, 2013.

The document replaces the previous Policy of 2005, and is based on the principle that the Bank Group, as a public and development institution, should be open and transparent in its operations.

Under the policy, all the information held by the Bank can be shared with the public unless it falls under policy exceptions indicated by the document. The policy embodies the Bank Group’s desire to deepen and increase information disclosure to enhance transparency and accountability.  

For Cecilia Akintomide, Secretary General and Vice-President at the AfDB, the new DAI marks a major change in the Bank’s overall approach towards public information. In her words, “The policy is a reaffirmation of the Bank Group’s commitment, to carry out its development activities in an open and transparent manner, facilitating better knowledge and understanding of the Bank Group’s activities, its use of resources, its engagement with client countries and institutions, as well as its development effectiveness.”

Right of Appeal

The policy reflects a paradigm shift in the Bank Group’s approach to the sharing of information. It is pro-disclosure, and therefore provides for the disclosure of information in the Bank Group’s possession, as long as it is not covered by a policy exception. In addition, disclosure under previous Bank Group policies was restrictive, and eligibility for disclosure was list-based. Other significant enhancements include:

  • Simultaneous disclosure of core Bank Group documents such as Country Strategy Papers and Regional Integration Strategy Papers.
  • The provisions for improved disclosure such as the Project Summary Notes for non-Sovereign guaranteed financing transactions, Audited Financial Statements for sovereign transactions, and highlights of Board meetings, following declassification
  • Limited list of exceptions to disclosure
  • Right of appeal including, to an Appeal Panel with independent persons for instances in which access to information is denied by the Bank

According to Akintomide, “Openness in this context reflects the Bank Group’s willingness and availability to engage with stakeholders, and the provision of effective platforms and instruments for such engagement. ‛Transparency’ denotes the availability and facilitated access to information.” 

The new policy is the result of an extensive consultation process, both within and outside the Bank, including regional and online consultations.

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