The Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank Group closed on Friday in Arusha, Tanzania, on an optimistic note that Africa would be a winner in the uncertain emerging landscape if the continent continues to implement reforms and maintain fiscal prudence that have seen countries in the region posting impressive growth in spite of the global financial crisis.
"A new era is opening up to Africa, on the condition that we can make the right decisions," said the president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Donald Kaberuka, at the official opening of the event attended by more than 2000 participants.
According to a release issued, Mr. Kaberuka reviewed events since the 2011 Annual Meetings in Lisbon, Portugal, against the backdrop of the world situation. Most African economies have an average growth of 5.9 per cent in 2011.
Host President Jakaya Kikwete was equally optimistic regarding Africa’s future, saying that Africa was poised to become the world’s new economic power house for the 21st century, provided it continues to embrace the sound economic policies that engendered prevailing progress.
However, they called for caution and to guard against internal and external social, economic and political phenomena that could undermine development efforts, citing the current situation in Mali, the persistent instability in Guinea Bissau and the long-drawn mayhem in Somalia as cases in point.
Africa can only sustain its new dynamics by rebuilding capacity to absorb external shocks; by focusing on employment creation, and through careful management of their natural resources. The continent must also invest in skills development, building infrastructure especially in energy, transportation, ICT, and ensuring food security through growth, trade and investment.
Held on the theme, ‘Africa and emerging global landscape: Challenges and Opportunities’ the event witnessed the adoption of major decisions and initiatives aimed at strengthening the Bank’s future operations.
The governors approved the Bank Group’s Annual Report and audited financial statements for the financial year ended 31st December 2011. The session also appointed the institution’s external auditors for 2012-2016; and formally adopted South Sudan’s application to join the Bank Group.
These were preceded by series of high level seminars on governance, enhancing private sector operations, regional integration, Africa transforming Africa; aid for trade; and reforms; as well as a number of initiatives.
On the Bank’s return to its statutory headquarters in Cote d’Ivoire, the governors adopted the recommendations of the Governors Consultative Committee (GCC) mandating the President to prepare a detailed road map working with the board of directors and in consultation with the Ivorian authorities. “The roadmap should provide for an orderly and phased return, taking into consideration the stability of the institution and the wellbeing of staff members, the financial implications of the return as well as the risks and the measures to mitigate such risks,” the governors said. The GCC is expected to consider the roadmap at its next meeting in Tokyo in October 2012.
Meanwhile, shareholders and governors ended their deliberating by commending the Bank for its efforts in meeting the diverse needs of its regional member countries.
Even so, Vice president Secretary-general, Ms Cecilia Akintomide told a closing news conference that a lot of work still has to be done in the days ahead, though the Bank’s priorities remain the same.
“We are going to see more innovative ways in making sure that resources are available for our programmes and especially to the agriculture sector. Helping farmers with processing their products will continue to be essential as the Bank embarks on its Long Term Strategy next year,” Ms. Akintomide said.
She said that the meetings were not only successful but also spent most of the time on dialogue on the formulation of the Long Term Strategy covering 2013 – 2022.
“It was a very interesting dialogue and governors shared experiences on what was working in their countries. Implementing the Strategy and getting the work done on other outstanding issues is going to be the main priority,” the Secretary General explained.
Meanwhile, AfDB Vice President and Chief Economist Mthuli Ncube told journalists that the Bank provides its member countries with both funding and development knowledge.
“When the Bank engages a country discussion aims at producing what the country should do policy wise. We continue with dialogue beyond deployment of financial resources,” he said.
Ncube explained that 20 years ago Africa did have growth but now “we want this current growth to be inclusive and transform resources accrued from it to create jobs.”
“In the long term strategy the Bank recognises that Africa is doing well and, therefore, the Bank should support this growth with support in such areas as technology, transport infrastructure and governance,” he said.
For his part, Charles Boamah, AfDB Vice President in charge of Finance, said the Bank was monitoring closely European banks operating in Africa and seeing to what extent it could bridge the gap in financing projects in view of the European crisis.
He said the AfDB developed since 2009 instruments to deal with crises and those instruments were still there.
The governors approved the holding of the 2013 Annual Meetings in Marrakech, Morocco.