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Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf underscored the important role of the African Development Bank and the African Development Fund during the first meeting on the Fund’s 14th replenishment (ADF-14) in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, on Thursday, March 17.
In a speech addressed to the ADF deputies, Sirleaf underscored the important support provided by the African Development Fund and the Bank’s Transition Support Facility in Liberia and in countries emerging from post-conflict and fragile situations. She also called upon those present to continue to pledge their support for the African Development Fund, the Bank Group’s concessional loan window.
“On behalf of the majority of our nations,” Sirleaf said, “the support from the ADF is dear to our hearts. The Bank has proven to be an effective, credible and relevant vehicle in supporting our aspirations for building resilient communities and societies and changing the lives of people.”
Sirleaf acknowledged that the ADF-14 negotiations are taking place at a time when the world is facing numerous challenges – an economic slowdown in emerging markets, a slump in international commodity prices, the impact of climate change and global warming, and security threats.
However, she added that several recent global commitments will go a long way toward ensuring Africa’s sustainable development, such as the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development, the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the COP21 Agreement on Climate Change.
“The African Development Fund, through the Bank Group, has developed a strong and effective partnership with Liberia, reactivating a long-standing relationship as soon as our conflict ended in 2003,” Sirleaf said.
“In a post-conflict and extreme fragile situation, the Bank coordinated with other development partners to support the reengagement of Liberia with the international financial community. The led to debt arrears clearance at the granting of HIPC debt relief of US $4.6 billion in 2010, including US $237 million from the AfDB itself.”
But the support from the African Development Bank did not stop there. The Bank has transformed the lives of the Liberian people through the financing road and infrastructure projects, the provision of electricity, and the improvement of water and sanitation services.
“I have seen the unspeakable joy when a new road reaches an isolated village, and people see vehicles in their towns for the first time in their lives,” Sirleaf said. “This creates hope, and hope helps ensure peace.”
The Bank’s response to the devastating Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak, which claimed the lives of more than 4,800 Liberians, was greatly appreciated, said Sirleaf. “We lost 180 healthcare workers in the crisis, a loss that further worsened the already weak capacity in the sector. The Bank responded to our needs swiftly, flexibly, adequately with proper sequencing, thereby helping to protect the development gains made in the last decade, and which might have otherwise made it difficult to effectively implement the SDGs. With significant support from partners, including the AfDB, we contained the epidemic.
“I fully appreciate the current fiscal challenges in many of our countries,” Sirleaf concluded. “Yet, we stand at a time of golden opportunity – an opportunity, with just a little bit of effort, that can create a virtuous cycle of inclusive growth, peace and stability in Africa, and global peace, growth and prosperity in our common world. Together, let us create the appropriate conditions for the SDGs to succeed, particularly in Africa.”