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Southern African Governors supportive of African Development Bank’s efforts for increased development impact in the region
The Bank’s regional governors from southern Africa gathered yesterday to consider and discuss the work of the African Development Bank in the past year, following detailed presentations by the Bank’s senior management and an opening speech of welcome by Bank President Akinwumi Adesina.
“We are working hard for a much-transformed Southern Africa,” Adesina told governors.
Governors commented in detail on the Bank’s transformative projects in the region, and shared their concerns to ensure that their countries’ recent improvement in economic growth would continue to be reflected in solid development impacts,especially in higher youth employment and an enhanced quality of life for southern Africans. They were also agreed about the key importance of the non-financial support their countries receive from the African Development Bank. The governors called for more technical advice, dialogue, policy and strategies to create jobs.
Governor Adriano Maleiane of Mozambique discussed issues relatedto the informal employment sector and debt ratios. He also credited the Bank with its insistence on creating a positive and productive environment for employment, improving capacity for jobs, especially in rural areas, and its innovative financing structures. He said that this wasallowing job seekers to consider alternative options of becoming entrepreneurs and job providers, taking advantage of opportunities raised by the establishment of staple crop processing zones.
Governor Vera Daves, Angola's Treasury Secretary, picked up on Governor Maleiane’s theme of the Bank’s capacity to provide significant non-financial services to regional member countries and asked what support the Bank could offer to help the Angolangovernment make an easier identification of the priorities necessary for the 2,000+ projects that it was currently handling.
Similarly, Governor Rajesh Acharuzof Mauritiusalso spoke about the provision of assistance that might be given by the Bank, in this case to the Mauritius Africa Fund, as well as stressing the importance to his country of developing and expanding the staple crop processing zones mentioned by the President.He also referred to the unique difficulties encountered by those African countries in the middle income category (MIC), remarking that island economies are particularly affected bythe disproportionate damage and financial cost of climate change.
The special challenges faced by island economies were also mentioned by Governor Rajaonson of Madagascar, who spoke of the policy alignment between his government’s new economic development policy and vision and the Bank’s High 5 strategy. He alsohighlighted the island’s problems in energy, infrastructure and absorptive capacity, but expressed the hope that the Bank would be able to assist in many of the projects that had become matters of urgency.
The governors accepted the need for the Bank to be adequately financed for the next few crucial years of the implementation of the High 5s, and expressed their support for the Bank’s determination to demonstrate more efficient management and nimble administration.
“The message is clear”, summarised President Adesina, “Africa deserves more!”
He offered a tantalising vision of what Africa might look like with a 200% funded capital increase, the option preferred by the Bank in answer to the Governors’ Consultative Committee question last November in Rome.
“Just think about what Africa will look like with a 200% General Capital Increase, if approved by you, our Governors:160 million people will get access to electricity; 374 million people will benefit from access to improvements in agriculture; 24 million people will benefit from private sector investment projects; 407 million people will have improved access to transport; and202 million people will have access to improved water and sanitation” said Adesina.
Kapil Kapoor, Director-General of the Southern Africa sub-region, who stressed the heterogeneity of the countries in the region, drew attention to the region’s transformative projects undertaken. In 2018, three power utility companies were created in Angola, the Pandamantenga project in Botswanaconstructed 190 kilometers of roads and helped provide water supply tonearly 30,000 hectares of farmland. The Nacala rail and road project in Mozambique resulted in a tripling of Mozambique’s coal exports to 18 million tons, and other key projects in eSwatini, Madagascar, Mauritius, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Sao Tome and Prinicipe.
Other senior Bank staff made detailed presentations to the governors, including Celestin Monga, the Bank’s Chief Economist and Vice-President, who pointed to improving GDP growth on the continent, which would rise to 4.1% next year; Swazi Tshabalala, the Bank’s Vice President for Finance and Chief Finance Officer; Tim Turner, the Bank group’s Chief Risk Officer; and Stella Kilonzo, Director of the Africa Investment Forum.
The meeting was introduced by the Bank’s Senior Vice President, Charles Boamah.
Vice President Khaled and Blanke also made detailed statements to the governors, respectively on the MIC status and the challenge of providing rural jobs and services, as well as improving access opportuntities for women in rural areas under the AFAWA program (Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa).