On the occasion of its 51st Assembly ending today in Lusaka, I would like to write about the role of the African Development Bank (AfDB), that is particularly crucial for Africa’s development. Indeed, it is hard to come around the vast array of its missions, which is a pity as this institution has such a great impact on the continent. I would like to outline the most fundamental of them and how they combine with our expertise at NEPAD.
First of all, the AfDB Group’s mission is to help reduce poverty and improve living conditions for Africans. To reach that goal, the Bank must mobilize resources so as to achieve the continent’s economic and social development. These resources enable the institution to assist African countries – individually and collectively – in their efforts to reach sustainable economic development along with social progress. Combating poverty is at the heart of the action of the AfDB. To this end, the Bank seeks to stimulate and mobilize internal and external resources to promote investments as well as provide its regional member countries with technical and financial assistance.
The bank has attracted some critics but they tend to forget the great role it plays in many fields. Indeed, between 2005 and 2015, the AfDB invested more than 28 billion dollars on infrastructures, of which 11 billion went directly to the energy sector and to finance the development of the continent. The Bank invests into projects that make it possible to reach one of the objective of the African Union: integration. It is almost impossible to ignore that the AfDB paved the way in many fields such as transportation infrastructures.
Day after day, it also plays a great part in setting up electricity projects: for instance, it approved in October 2015 a €121.5-million package to the Gambia River Basin Development Organization (OMVG) to improve electricity access and provide renewable, clean and affordable energy in Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal.
In Lusaka, President Adesina set down a new agenda for the Bank, building on its existing 2013-2022 Strategy. Now there are five development priorities for the institution: Light up and Power Africa; Feed Africa; Industrialize Africa; Integrate Africa; and Improve the Quality of Life for the People of Africa. These focus areas are essential in transforming the lives of the African people and therefore consistent with the United Nations agenda on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Today, I believe that the AfDB is at the heart of Africa’s changes. This is why it has to keep strengthening its role in order to make Africa emerge. The NEPAD and the Bank already work together on a number of strategic initiatives and I fully agree with President Akinwumi Adesina when he says: “Africa must think big, act big and deliver big! We must never show low ambitions for Africa”.