“Africa is clearly turning the corner” says AfDB President Donald Kaberuka

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Ouagadougou, 15 May 2006 – The President of the African Development Bank Group, Mr. Donald Kaberuka, has underscored the positive economic developments in Africa and stressed the need to sustain and deepen ongoing reforms.

Speaking to journalists in Ouagadougou ahead of the 17-18 May, 2006, Annual Meetings of the Bank Group, Mr. Kaberuka pointed to some encouraging indicators: higher growth rates in both oil and non-oil producing economies, improved macroeconomic management and overall governance, and a significant decline in areas of active conflict.

Mr. Kaberuka said the continent had registered an average economic growth of 5% in 2005, with oil and mineral producing countries growing at an average 8% and the non-oil producing countries registering growth rates of about 4.5 percent. He said that while Africa was not where it should be and current rates will not result in the region attaining the Millennium Development Goals, the region was definitely turning the corner.

"On the balance, it is our assessment that economic reforms in the past years are beginning to bear fruit. So the message we shall be passing to our Governors is that we are turning the corner but the road ahead is quite long for us to be able to perform in a manner that will get us close to the millennium development goals" Mr. Kaberuka emphasized.

Addressing questions on current reforms in the Bank, the President spoke of the institution’s solid financial situation and its growing capacity to bear risk, all of which should bring benefits to its regional member countries. He noted, however, that the Bank also needed to adapt to new demands and the new challenges facing Africa, revising its structures, processes and operations.

The President spoke of the importance of reducing the cost of doing business in Africa, making special mention of the need to build economic infrastructure. He also underscored the importance of partnerships, saying that no one country or organization could mobilize the resources needed to meet the region’s infrastructure challenge.

Mr. Kaberuka cited regional integration as one of the major challenges facing the continent that calls for harmonization of fiscal policies and the provision of integrated roads, telecommunications and power networks. He said that progress would have to be made on issues of infrastructure but noted that no one country or organization had the resources to deal with the problem.

"We have been making advances within the Regional Economic Communities to achieve macroeconomic convergence, harmonization of fiscal and monetary policies as well as harmonization of business regulations. But we have a long way to go and the real challenge now is one of trying to bring down the physical barriers, especially roads, telecommunications and power," President Kaberuka said.

Finance and Economic Development Ministers and Central Bank Governors of the Bank Group’s 77 member countries as well as key actors in the public and private sectors, civil society groups and the media are participating in the event at the Ouaga 2000 conference complex. They attended the Bank’s 2006 Financial and Operational Analysis on Monday afternoon by Finance complex Vice President Thierry de Longuemar.

Participants are reflecting on a number of pressing African development issues: Regional integration, Capital Markets, Investments, Infrastructures development, The Impact of Rising Oil Prices on African Economies, African Trade Prospects, Preventing and Combating Fraud and Corruption, and Development Effectiveness.

The 39th UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development is being held back-to-back with the Bank Group’s Annual Meetings.

On Tuesday, the two meetings will be bridged by a joint ADB/ECA high-level symposium on the theme ‘Infrastructure Development and Regional Integration: Issues, Opportunities and Challenges’.

The joint release of the 2006 ‘African Economic Outlook’ published in collaboration with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is scheduled to take place on Monday.

The ADB was created in 1964 to mobilize resources to finance the economic development and social progress of African countries. Its shareholders comprise 53 African countries (regional member countries) and 24 non-African (non regional member countries).

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