May 25, Ahmedabad – The African Development Bank Group concluded its 2017 Annual Meetings on Thursday in Ahmedabad, India, on a high note of optimism generated by the Bank’s good balance sheet and the early successes of its High 5 priorities, especially in agriculture and energy.
The 52nd Annual Meetings of the Board of Governors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the 43rd Meetings of the Board of Governors of the African Development Fund (ADF), reviewed and endorsed the Bank’s 2016 Annual Report and its programmes for the coming year. The Governors acclaimed the robust net incomes recorded by all three windows of the Bank Group which far exceeded the achievements of the previous year.
The Governors (Ministers of Finance, Economy, Planning and, in certain cases, Central Bank Governors) representing the 80 member countries of Africa’s premier development finance institution, commended the Boards of Directors, Management and staff of the Bank for exceeding its lending and disbursement targets for 2016; and encouraged them to continue to strive to achieve more.
The Governors endorsed the Bank’s leadership in the transformation of African agriculture in the context of the global commitment to end poverty and overcome hunger and food insecurity. “We encourage the Bank to continue to work with other donor agencies to crowd in financial resources, financing modalities and policy tools to unlock the potential of the sector and to fast-track the achievement of Africa’s agricultural transformation,” they said in their final communiqué.
The Governors expressed their appreciation of the Bank’s role in attracting more investment for youth in agriculture and the implementation of the Bank Group’s Jobs for Youth in Africa Initiative. “In particular, we encourage the Bank to enhance its partnerships for enabling access to agribusiness as a driving force for agricultural transformation,” the Governors said.
The meeting also applauded the Bank’s role in the New Deal for Energy in Africa, which aims at providing millions of households with electricity by 2025. “We encourage the Bank to continue to highlight the need for strong political will on climate change in this regard and in line with the 2016 Paris Agreement. Furthermore, we encourage the Bank to help leverage opportunities and overcome barriers, including access to finance to achieve transformation of the energy sector,” they said.
In his speech, AfDB President, Akinwumi Adesina thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and members of his government for providing appropriate structures and an excellent environment for the success of the meetings.
“To Prime Minister Modi, a very big thank you for hosting us and honoring us with your presence and for your very warm words: ‘Let us make history together for Africa,’” Adesina said.
He said that the Bank needed “bold optimism” backed by greater financial resources comparable to the kind of optimism that made Warren Buffet give US $30 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2006, to do more for the world.
“So, let ‘bold optimism’ from this Annual Meeting in India bubble and inspire us to accelerate financing, urgently, for the High 5s for Africa,” he emphasized.
Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi presided over the opening session on Tuesday in the presence of three African Heads of State – Presidents Macky Sall of Senegal and Patrice Talon of Benin, as well as Vice-President Daniel Kablan Duncan of Côte d’Ivoire participated in the ceremony alongside India’s Minister of Finance, Arun Jaitley, and the Chief Minister for Gujarat State, Vijay Rupani.
Three former Bank Group Presidents – Omar Kabbaj, Babacar Ndiaye, and Kwame Fordwor were also present.
Over 3,500 top government officials, business leaders, representatives of NGOs, civil society, as well as members of the academic community and the media participated in the Annual Meetings, which were preceded by high-level meetings, symposiums and seminars on the Bank’s High 5 priorities – Light up and power Africa; Feed Africa; Industrialize Africa; Integrate Africa; and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.
In line with the central theme, “Transforming Agriculture for Wealth Creation in Africa,” many of the high-level meetings explored how India and Africa can work together order to achieve their shared goal of rural and agricultural transformation, which would go a long way in reducing rural poverty and improving the quality of lives of rural people.
The 2017 edition of the African Economic Outlook (AEO) and a book on “Beating the Odds: Jump-Starting Developing Countries,” were launched along with the Financial Presentation on the Bank’s operations the previous year.
A series of regional sessions on India–West Africa Economic Cooperation; India–Central & South Africa Forum on Connectivity; India–East Africa Business Forum; and India–North Africa Trade Forum also feature prominently in the knowledge events of the meetings.
A special session on India-Japan co-operation for the development of Africa was held under the aegis of Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Japan Bank for International Co-operation (JBIC), in cooperation with their partner organizations in India on the promotion of African business through private-public partnerships between Japan and India in support of African businesses.
A ministerial roundtable discussion dwelt on developing partnerships between Africa and Asia trade and capital flows between the two continents. Entrepreneurship, private sector development in Africa, Asian lessons on human capital and technology in development as well as regional cooperation and trans-boundary challenges also came up for discussion.
Bilateral meetings and briefings by organisations and businesses, as well as expositions were held on the sidelines of the meetings.
The Banks signed series of project funding agreements and memorandums of understanding with the Governments of Gujarat State, South Sudan and a number of other countries.
The Gandhinagar encounter is the fourth time that the Annual Meetings of AfDB are being held outside Africa. The first such meeting took place in Valencia, Spain in 2001; the second in Shanghai, China in 2007; and the third in 2011 in Lisbon, Portugal. Busan, Korea, will host the 53rd meeting on May 21-25, 2018.