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African Leaders Urge Greater Commitment to Economic Development
Dakar, May 13, 2009 - The Annual Meeting of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group opened on Wednesday, May 13, 2009, in Dakar, Senegal. The meetings, which are being held on the theme: “Africa and the Financial Crisis: An Agenda for Action” have brought together more than 2,000 participants, among them, African heads of state –Senegalese President Adoulaye Wade, Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso, Ghanaian Vice President John Dramani Mahama, African Union Commission(AUC) President, Jean Ping, governors, members of the diplomatic corps, finance ministers from the institution’s 77 member countries, regional development banks, leading development finance institutions, and economics experts from across the globe.
Opening the event, Senegalese President, Adboulaye Wade, called on development institutions to utilize practical measures to improve economic development on the continent. Using the adage, “unity is power”, President Wade advised African governments to strengthen collaboration so as to fight the global financial crises and alleviate poverty. Although West African countries have used one currency as a symbol of regional integration, this has not alleviated poverty in the region. This can only be achieved through the implementation of strong integration policies, he stressed.
AfDB President, Donald Kaberuka, for his part, described the African Development Bank as “an institution which has remained robust even in such difficult global times for many financial institutions”. Commenting on African Development Bank’s 44th Anniversary, Mr. Kaberuka said, “We have had many achievements, occasional setbacks, but we can be proud of the institution which over the years, together we have built—a pride for Africa”.
Mr. Kaberuka informed the Assembly that he had put in place a Financial Crisis Monitoring Group involving the AU Commission President, the United Nations Economic for Africa (UNECA) Executive Secretary, Finance Ministers, Central Bank Governors and Regional Economic Organizations, to assess the challenges posed by the financial crisis and to make proposals. “We set up a mechanism-the Committee of Ten, to keep the situation under review”, he added.
Further commenting on the global economic crisis, Mr Kaberuka said, “no one can tell, with any degree of certainty, whether the worst for the global economy is over”, but expressed optimism “that the long-term prospects for Africa are still very bright. I believe we can limit the damage and prepare for re-takeoff”, he added.
“If we do the right things, Africa will emerge from the crises ready to take off once more. Our task is to help that happen, by protecting achievements, limiting the damage and as we respond-striking a balance between short term crisis response and staying the course on long term goals of economic transformation”, Mr. Kaberuka advised.
“That is what the African Development Bank-with your support is determined to do”, he affirmed.
Speaking on the occasion, the President of the African Union Commission, Mr. Jean Ping, described Africa as a continent at the crossroads of the financial crises, citing the piracy along the Somali coast as something that threatens the world’s economy and peace. « The piracy problem has just reminded us that we’ve forgotten countries like Somalia », he lamented, calling on African countries to work together to eradicate this phenomenon which threatens the continent.
Mr Ping commended the « excellent collaboration » between AUC, AfDB and UNECA that has made it possible for them to address many of Africa’s socio-economic development challenges. He acknowledged the contributions of African Finance and Economy Ministers, Central Bank Governors as well as the AfDB and the UNECA in analyzing the impact of the financial and economic crises on African economies and in proposing solutions.