AfDB Launches Zambia Field Office
The President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group, Donald Kaberuka, officially launched the Zambia Country Office on 1 August 2008 in Lusaka. The function was attended by Zambia’s first President, Kenneth Kaunda, the Ministers of Finance and Planning, Ng’andu Magande, as well as AfDB’s former President and Chief Guest, Willa Mung’omba. Several ambassadors and high commissioners accredited to Zambia and heads of multilateral agencies also attended the event.
President Kaberuka thanked the government for its long standing support to Bank Group activities including the government’s facilitation of the establishment of the country office in 2007. Mr. Kaberuka said that the Bank was seriously committed to ensuring the success of the decentralization policy because of its relevance to the Bank’s regional operations, which include improved client services delivery, enhanced development partnership through increased policy dialogue; and the implementation of the results framework, especially the management of the Bank’s portfolio. He further observed that Zambia had continued to be of strategic importance to the Bank since the 1980s, under the government of President Kenneth Kaunda), when the country hosted the Bank’s Annual Meetings twice, including the historic 1982 opening up of its capital to non-regional members.
The AfDB President highlighted the increasing need to invest in infrastructure related projects at national and regional levels in order to address Africa’s main challenges of poverty, slow economic growth, and to facilitate progress towards regional integration. He specifically commended the government’s efforts to mitigate the impact of the current global food shortages on the people.
For his part, the Finance Minister, Ng’andu Magande, congratulated the AfDB for implementing the decentralization strategy. He observed that relations between the Zambian government and the Bank had improved significantly since the opening of the field office. He, however, cautioned the Bank to avoid the pitfalls that characterized past efforts at decentralization. He also noted that the AfDB had always supported Zambia even when the other external partners temporarily suspended support to the country.
The Minister thanked the Bank for its debt relief initiatives which have, in part assisted the country in improving its external position. He indicated that Zambia would continue to contract concessional loans for key infrastructural support areas with a view to improving its regional and global competitiveness. Lastly, the Minister pledged Zambia’s continued support to Bank Group activities in Zambia and the African region as a whole.