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Tunis, 28 August 2009 - A five-member US Congressional delegation met with the top management of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group on Friday, 28 August 2009, in Tunis, where they discussed key challenges, notably the African Development Bank Group’s response to the growing development needs of its Regional Member Countries within the context of the global financial crisis. The AfDB Group President, Mr. Donald Kaberuka, chaired the discussions.
In his introductory speech, President Kaberuka thanked the delegation for taking time to visit the Bank Group, to get first-hand knowledge of the progress being made on the ground in order to assess the institution’s efficiency in the use of resources from US taxpayers. Discussions focus on Bank Group’s 2008-2012 Medium-Term Strategy which is anchored on infrastructure and private sector development, strengthening higher education and the promotion of governance; as well as getting results on the ground, leadership and transparency.
“Africa is a very important partner to the United States of America. This has been strongly demonstrated by the recent visit of President Obama in Ghana and the Africa Tour of Hilary Clinton” said Congressman Gregory W. Meeks, Democrat (New York) and head of the delegation. He commended the strong leadership of President Kaberuka who has taken the Bank’s development work to a whole new level, paving the way for profound economic growth and development in Africa that has never been seen before, and for being an engine of development for the continent. “We are confident in the work and leadership of the African Development Bank, and we will convey to Congress the message that we need to continue to support the AfDB” he noted.
The AfDB is pursuing institutional reforms to scale up selectivity in its operations in order to enhance development effectiveness. The Bank is vigorously consolidating its decentralization program with 23 field offices currently functioning and engaging in close collaboration with projects and programs beneficiaries as well as improved proximity dialogue with policy and decision makers.
The United Sates has a long-standing partnership with the Bank Group. It is the second largest shareholder of the 77 member-countries. The US is also the second major contributor to the African Development Fund, the concessional window of the AfDB Group.
Representative Greg Meeks is accompanied by Jack Kingston, Republican (Georgia); Marcia Fudge, Democrat (Ohio); Sheila Jackson Lee, Democrat (Texas); and Melvin Watt, Democrat (North Carolina).
The US delegation visit comes at a time when Africa is facing daunting challenges due to the international financial crisis. The Bank Group has taken outstanding measures to mitigate the negative impact of the international crisis. Among these are the creation of the Committee of Ten (African Ministers of Finance and Central Bank Governors), initiated by President Kaberuka in close coordination with the African Union Commission and the UN Economic Commission for Africa, as well as the new instruments established by the Bank Group to respond directly to the needs of Regional Member Countries such as the US$ 1.5 billion Emergency Liquidity Facility; the US$1.0 billion two-phased Trade Finance Initiative.
As at December 31, 2008, the AfDB had committed, since 1967, some US$ 66 Billion in 3,300 operations to fight poverty in African countries by promoting sustainable economic and social growth.