The African Development Bank Group has concluded five days of annual meetings in Accra, Ghana on Friday with a rallying cry from its President Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, to be proud of Africa’s progress. He told delegates at a spectacular closing ceremony at the end of the Bank Group’s Annual Meetings that they were all what he called “partners in hope who shared a passion for the continent and who should celebrate Africa’s successes.”
Ghanaian Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia represented President Nana Akufo-Addo at the closing ceremony. With him were Finance Minister Kenneth Ofori-Atta, the outgoing Chair of the Bank Group’s Board of Governors. Delegates unanimously adopted what they called the Accra Declaration, which captured decisions arrived at by the Bank Group’s governors during the meetings.
Bank Group Secretary General Vincent Nmehielle—who was responsible for organizing the meetings—thanked the Ghanaian authorities for hosting the meetings. He announced that the Group’s 2023 annual meetings will take place in Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt. The new executive bureau of the Board of Governors was also unveiled. It is led by Governor from Egypt Tarek Amer who is also the country’s governor of the Central Bank and the new chairman of the Bank Group’s Board of Governors. Brazil assumes the position of 1st Vice President and Uganda as 2nd Vice President.
This year’s meetings bore the special stamp of a continent recovering from the socio-economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic. They were the first annual meetings held in person in the last few years, after the African Development Bank took strong precautionary measures to contain the disastrous effects of the pandemic. During that period the Bank Group established its Covid-19 Response Fund to help the continent fight the pandemic and embark on economic recovery.
Relevance of the Bank’s High 5s
Board members each received an award in recognition of their commitment and for making critical decisions at a critical time for the continent including approving the Covid19 response strategy.
The Governors asserted the continued relevance of the High 5 Priorities—Light up and power Africa, Feed Africa, Integrate Africa, Industrialize Africa and improve the quality of life of the people in Africa—as key pillars of the Bank Group’s strategic outlook for the next 10 years (2023 – 2032) to build “a prosperous Africa, based on inclusive growth and sustainable development”.
Delegates reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen the Bank’s financial power and resources to enable a scale-up that will multiply and raise the level of achievements. Adesina cited Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, saying: “We must accelerate the process of moving from a billion to a trillion, and the Bank must become the dominant financial institution in Africa to accelerate development.”
The Bank’s president told delegates at the closing ceremony that discussions will continue for leveraging the equity of the African Development Fund on international capital markets, thus allowing for much larger fundraising. “With the ADF we have created a powerful institution, the only one based in Africa that exclusively finances Africa’s development,” said Adesina. He added: “And the Fund arriving on the financial market with its $25 billion will not worsen Africa’s debt.”
AfDB well placed to channel Africa’s SDRs
The Bank Group chief reiterated his plea for the African Development Bank to be the vehicle for the continent’s IMF Special Drawing Rights (SDRs). He said the institution’s track record should also be a strong argument in its favor as it is “the only Triple-A African institution and ranked the fourth most transparent and best multilateral financial institution in the world…” He said that independent reviews showed that the Bank’s governance instruments were up to international standards. The Bank Group President assured Board members that he had heard their recommendations: “We will continue to improve,” he said, adding that all recommendations would be implemented. Adesina said all 81 member countries were “dedicated and loyal shareholders” who had come to express their confidence in the work of the Bank by their presence.
Ghanaian Finance Minister Kenneth Ofori-Atta, spoke of the privilege he enjoyed of having chaired the Board of Governors for two years. He said: “It is a difficult time, we face rising prices and debt, and 1.3 billion Africans need innovative solutions.” The minister also said: “Let us have the courage to move forward with the climate change framework and support countries in climate strategies for green and inclusive growth.”
The new Board of Governors Chair invited participants to the global climate summit, COP27, to be organized by Egypt in Sharm El-Sheikh later in the year in a context where Africa is disproportionately affected by global warming. He reaffirmed Egypt’s support to the Bank, saying: “The Bank is an institution that stands out. Our expectations are high, and we know how much the continent has been hit by Covid and the best way to benefit from Special Drawing Rights is to use the Bank’s channel.”
In his remarks, Ghanaian vice president Mahamudu Bawumia said the African Development Bank’s performance had brought to reality the vision of the founding fathers. He said that the impact of the Russian-Ukrainian war would weigh heavily on the growth of African economies. Vice President Bawumia said he hoped that the strategy the African Development Bank Group will adopt for 2023-2032 would also be a means of achieving the objectives defined by the African Union’s Agenda 2063. He said he was convinced that the Bank had the leadership to make the institution’s High 5s come to fruition, and he was confident that the Accra Declaration would be fully implemented.
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