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Africa on the mend: Staying the course on transformation


In six years’ time, in 2020, 22 African countries will be growing at more than 6%, with 5.7% growth projected for the continent in 2013, according to the Annual Development Effectiveness Review 2014, released on Wednesday, May 21, 2014 in Kigali, Rwanda.

The report, released during the Financial and Development Effectiveness Presentation, a signature event at the African Development Bank Group’s Annual Meetings, underscores the fact that these high growth figures signal the beginning of a shift towards a self-sustaining pattern of development for Africa.

“What this year’s report is telling us is that, after a decade of growth, Africa today is challenging the old narratives of poverty and dependency and is writing a new story of change and opportunity,” said Simon Mizrahi, Director of the Bank’s Quality Assurance and Results Department which produced the report .

He said Africa is making tremendous development progress and is set to become a global development pole with nine out of the 15 current fastest-growing economies in Africa.

According to the report, these growth statistics are not just about numbers but about creating the economic conditions for more Africans to live longer and more meaningful lives.

The case of Domina Dusabe, a Rwandan mother of five children in the foothills of Kigali whose living conditions and those of her family have been positively transformed through a dairy project financed by the AfDB and Rwanda’s government, illustrates the humanity behind some 820 development projects currently being implemented by the institution across the African continent.

“Whether it is life expectancy, school enrolment or infant mortality, Africa has made incredible strides in improving the living conditions of its people” in the past two decades, Mizrahi added.

However, these successes also highlight considerable contradictions and challenges that need to be resolved. For instance, while Africa is one of the fastest-growing regions in the world, it is also home to six of the 10 most unequal countries in the world.

The second and third challenges relate to inadequate infrastructure and the issue of sustainability in development. Due to inadequate infrastructure, for instance, African countries pay less for food items imported from Latin America than they do buying them from neighbouring countries; while the 90% shrinkage of Lake Chad amply underscores the criticality of sustainable development.

“What Lake Chad tells us is that Africa’s development prospects are inextricably linked with good stewardship of its natural resources,” the report adds.

The Bank’s Ten Year Strategy, 2013-2022 underscores the imperative of tackling these challenges with a focus on inclusive growth and the transition towards green growth as its overarching objectives.

To achieve these goals, the Bank is investing US $22 billion to create opportunities across the continent in the areas of infrastructure development, regional economic integration, private sector development, governance and accountability as well as skills and technology.

The Quality Assurance and Results Department has developed MapAfrica, an interactive web-based tool used to map the effectiveness of its work on ground. MapAfrica found that in 2013, 71% of all Bank operations achieved or exceeded their development targets. In 2013, the Bank has also picked up two development impact awards bestowed on it by the US Treasury, a confirmation of the Bank’s invaluable inputs geared to Africa’s economic transformation.

Link: Annual Meetings Website

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