Annual Meetings: Creating an Enabling Environment for Investments
The Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank (ADB) Group ended on Thursday in Shanghai, China with the Board of Governors endorsing the main thrust of the Bank’s vision, and taking note of a visible improvement in the Bank’s approach to development issues in regional member countries.
The governors welcomed ongoing institutional reforms aimed at enhancing the Bank’s operational efficiency as well as its capacity to effectively and efficiently meet the needs and expectations of its borrowing members.
They identified a number of priorities, including the effective operationalization of the strong potential for south-south cooperation between Asia and Africa, the coordination of aid, especially through the implementation of the Paris Declaration on harmonization, a substantial replenishment of concessional resources within the context of ADF-XI and the enhancement of the Bank’s competitiveness through selective interventions with high added value.
In concluding, the governors pointed out that 2007 would be a year of delivery, adding that they were aware that development financing was a long term activity. They however expressed confidence in the Bank’s ability to accomplish the mission.
The Chairman of the ADB Board of Governors, Zhou Xiaochuan, expressed satisfaction with the organization of the event, adding that the Meetings served as a platform for the exchange of perspectives on how to better fight poverty. He called on the Bank Group to use its comparative advantage to better carry out its development mission.
Bank Group President, Donald Kaberuka, for his part, thanked the government and people of China for the excellent organization of the Annual Meetings, adding that the holding of the event in Asia augured well for emerging Afro-Asian relations. He added that the Board of Governors meeting held within the framework of the Annual Meetings recommended and agreed on a roadmap regarding the Bank’s temporary relocation which will be discussed during the next Annual Meetings in Maputo, Mozambique.
Mr. Kaberuka later gave a press conference during which he underscored the resounding success of the event due to the excellent organization. He recalled the growing interest of the international community in Africa. Questions to the President focused mainly on trade between Asia and Africa, with journalists seeking to know if the acceleration of Chinese investments in African countries with weak economies would not result in the further indebtedness these countries.
Mr. Kaberuka underscored the Bank’s catalytic, advisory and financial role in its dealings with member states. Discussions also focused on reforms in China, especially with regard to macroeconomic stability. The Chairman of People’s Bank of China, Zhou Xiaochuan, said interest rates had been raised by 1.27% in order to reduce inflation and ensure macro-economic stability.
Regarding the role the Bank was playing to help African countries attain MDGs, Mr. Kaberuka stressed that investments had been carried out in strategic sectors such as water, making it possible to improve living standard across the continent. All of these initiatives are intended to help these countries achieve MDGs.
Other issues raised included decentralization and ADB investments in Africa. Mr. Kaberuka also dwelt on Cape Verde which, he said, had achieved success through hard work and good governance.
"We have to stop finger pointing others and work harder to create an enabling investment and development environment," he said.
The Annual Meetings also served as a venue for the Bank Group to sign a series of agreements on Thursday with some of its regional member countries. Mozambique signed an agreement of *UA17 million to help develop the Missingir dam. Uganda, for its part, also signed a UA30 million agreement for an agricultural infrastructure development program, while Lesotho signed a UA7 million agreement for an education project and a UA 1.570 million agreement for a road project. Zambia also signed a UA 20 million budget support loan agreement for a poverty reduction project as well as a UA 15 million for a rural water and sanitation project. Similarly, Mali signed a UA15 million agreement to finance a livestock breeding project, while Mauritius received UA30 million to support ongoing economic reforms in the country.
The Bank Group had on Wednesday signed agreements with Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon and Djibouti granting each of them US$ 500,000 to help finance national efforts against Avian Flu. The Bank also signed an agreement with South Africa for the country’s accession to the African Development Fund (ADF). Later in the day, the Bank also signed an agreement worth US$497,528 with Sao Tome and Principe, as well as with Burkina Faso for 88,859,888 Yen to support poverty reduction efforts in these countries.
The Annual Meetings, which were attended by Presidents Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Pedro Pires of Cape Verde, Marc Ravalomanana of Madagascar, former Mozambican President, Joachim Chissano, and former Canadian Prime Minister, Paul Martin, brought together development experts from across the globe. They made it possible for the Bank Group to present its financial results, with its president stressing that the institution had a solid financial record. He pointed out that the institution’s first priority was to consolidate its financial strength in order to fulfill its fundamental mission of fighting poverty and promoting economic development in Africa.