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In his annual statement to ambassadors from the member states of the Bank accredited to Tunisia and representatives of international organizations on Thursday, January 17, 2013 in Tunis, African Development Bank President Donald Kaberuka discussed the Bank’s role in Africa’s economic transformation and signaled future challenges.
“Africa has shown remarkable staying power since the global crisis began in 2008,” Kaberuka told ambassadors to Tunisia representing the Bank’s regional and non-regional member countries during a New Year luncheon on the outskirts of the Tunisian capital.
“To praise Africa’s new dynamism is not to ignore the massive poverty,” said Kaberuka. “To recognize Africa’s new momentum is not to mask the huge problem of growing inequalities, unemployment or exclusion. Nor is it to overlook the large infrastructure gap, inadequate human capital and issues of governance and institutions that hamper business and investment.”
Kaberuka outlined the Bank’s work over the past decade “in creating wealth through economic growth, trade and investment”; “reducing reliance on foreign aid by tapping into the global markets for capital and making Africa attractive for investments”; and unlocking the continent’s “considerable domestic market of one billion people through greater integration aimed at reaping a demographic dividend.”
The Bank has pursued these objectives, he said, by focusing on four key areas: investment in infrastructure, including energy, transport and connectivity; regional economic integration and removing barriers to trade; promoting the private sector; and investing in tertiary technical and science education.
According to Kaberuka, the way forward for the Bank is to support broad-based, inclusive growth and job creation; provide financing for development; to make Africa’s resources work for Africa; and to adapt economies to climate change. The dynamics of each country and region will be taken into account.
In addressing the ambassadors to Tunisia, President Kaberuka noted that the North African region continues to navigate a delicate transition period. “Transitions of this type hold great promise but exact a heavy short-term economic cost.”
The challenges facing the region revolve around jobs, said Kaberuka. “These challenges are: macroeconomic stabilization; well-targeted safety nets for the poor; consistent long term policy direction; and growth-oriented reforms. After a revolution, rebuilding confidence takes time.”
Kaberuka expressed his appreciation for the ongoing cooperation and partnership between the Bank and the countries and organizations represented. The Bank President thanked in particular those countries that contribute to the African Development Fund, the Bank’s concessional window that provides financing in infrastructure development, strengthens responses to climate change, integrates economies, and enhances food security and human capital development for the 39 low-income countries that are eligible.