ABIDJAN - The African Development Bank (AfDB) is set to double its operations on the continent in the next five years in a bid to spearhead economic growth and poverty reduction, the bank’s president has said.
Speaking at the official opening ceremony of the Bank’s Board of Governors meetings Thursday, Dr Donald Kaberuka, a Rwandan national who was this week re-elected to head the bank for another five years, reaffirmed that as the global recession fades away, AfDB will return to its core business; addressing the structural bottlenecks to economic growth, obstacles that delay Africa’s ability to free herself from poverty and aid dependence.
“Our operations are not simply growing in volume, doubling in four years; they are more effective-by shifting strategic direction and focusing to a few domains, where we have or could build comparative advantage, such as infrastructure, private sector and economic integration,” Kaberuka said.
To facilitate its development agenda, he announced that his institution will deploy $165million, out of the net income of $346 million generated in 2009 by the Bank to support a number of development initiatives including increased contribution to the African Development Fund (ADF).
Lending under ADF on which majority of low income member states largely depend, is expected to increase from $ 9.8 billion to $ 16.5 billion.
The bank’s plans Kaberuka said, would also be boosted by the expected general capital increase of $100 billion by its shareholders.
“That capital will be put to serving Africa’s needs of today; closing the infrastructure deficit, its roads, railways, waterways, broadband, water systems and dealing with climate change,” said Kaberuka.
To deal with the emerging global challenge of climate change and the additional costs it imposes on the continent, Kaberuka proposed creation of a “Climate Facility” at the Bank by the Board to serve as a vehicle for funding Africa’s climate change challenges.
“Our task is to propose ways to raise the $30 billion dollars a year needed in accordance with the Copenhagen final statement,” he said.
Kaberuka also recounted how the institution helped several member countries overcome the negative impact of the global financial crisis, providing necessary support to enable African countries to sustainably grow their economies.
He said the Bank provided frontloaded additional budget support, trade finance and liquidity to mitigate the impact of the financial crisis in the institution’s regional member countries.
In his official opening remarks of the Annual Meetings in his country, Ivory Coast’s President, Laurent Gbagbo, commended the institution’s growing interventions in its regional member countries in recent years.
President Gbagbo particularly expressed his full support to the Bank’s priority areas of intervention – infrastructure, regional integration, private sector, higher education and research as well efforts to mitigate the impact of climate change on the continent.
Top on the agenda of this year’s meetings was the election of the Bank Group’s President, the approval of the its sixth General Capital Increase and the 12th replenishment of the African Development Fund (ADF) as well as the creation of two new constituencies raising the number of board chairs from 18 to 20.
Presidents Yayi Boni of Benin, Faure Gnassingbe of Togo, Amadou Toumani Toure of Mali and former President Festus Mogae of Botswana are attending the meetings.
Prime Minister Bernard Makuza is also attending the meeting as well as the prime ministers of Burkina Faso and Ghana.