27 May 2014

Africa: ADB Celebrates 50 Years

Photo: AfDB
Novembre 1964 - Novembre 2014 : 50e anniversaire de la BAD.

This year, 2014, the African Development Bank is celebrating 50 years of its existence and operations as the continent's premier financing institution, with events planned for the rest of the year at its headquarters and throughout its regional resource centers and country offices.

Liberia played a key role in the establishment of the ADB. A Liberian - Mr. A. Romeo Horton - approached President Tubman in the early 1960s with the idea of establishing the African Development Bank to help accelerate development in Africa. President Tubman supported the idea, and after agreement with other Heads of State in West Africa, they appointed a Committee of Nine to further discuss the matter, naming A. Romeo Horton as Chairman. This led to the formal creation of the African Development Bank in August 1963 in Khartoum, Sudan by 23 independent African countries. The ADB then began operations on 10th September, 1964; and held its first Board of Governors meeting on 4-7 November, 1964 in Lagos, Nigeria. The Bank's membership has since grown to 79 countries, comprising 54 African countries and 25 non-African countries. The Bank has over the past 50 years financed more than 4,000 operations valued at USD 67.2 billion, in various key economic sectors from agriculture to infrastructure, health and education sectors, and governance and policy reforms.

The 50th anniversary is an occasion for us to look back to 50 years of achievements and successes for the Bank group, and to laud its contributions to Africa's development amidst challenges. It is also a time for reflection, introspection, and prospection about what the Bank needs to do to accelerate Africa's development over the next 50 years.

Within this context, the President of the African Development Bank, Dr. Donald Kaberuka, launched the 50th Anniversary celebrations in Tunis on 22nd April, 2014 and celebrations are being held during the Annual Meetings in Kigali, Rwanda this week. The final events of the Bank's 50th anniversary celebrations will take place at the Bank's headquarters in Abidjan during the week preceding 4th November 2014 and on that commemorative day itself.

Looking ahead, the AfDB has embarked on its journey for the next 50 years, with the launching in 2013 of the 10 Year Strategy. The Strategy has two broad objectives: attaining inclusive growth and transitioning to green growth. The strategy focuses on five operational priorities: Infrastructure development; regional economic integration, private sector development, governance and accountability, and skills and technology, while paying attention to special issues of fragile states, gender and agriculture and food security.

For Liberia, the Bank is also celebrating a history of successful operations and cooperation since 1972 with the country. Although its activities were interrupted by the civil war, it has returned since the Peace Accord and, since August 2011, its Field Office has strengthened its presence in the country. The Liberia Field Office, along with the Bank's other 34 offices, is enhancing the Bank's ability to better serve Regional Member Countries in the implementation of projects and programs.

The Bank's current portfolio in Liberia comprises 20 operations for a total of UA 217.12 million, approximately USD 337million. The portfolio covers seven sectors: agriculture and rural development, transport, governance, water and sanitation, energy, human development, and finance and banking. The Bank is implementing its Country Strategy Paper (CSP) for Liberia for 2013-2017, which is aligned with the ADB's Ten Year Strategy, and supporting the Government's development agenda, the Agenda for Transformation (AfT) for 2012-2017. In doing so, the ADB is promoting inclusive economic growth through transformative infrastructure investments. It is investing in Liberia's key constraints to growth, focusing on energy and road infrastructure, to promote a competitive private sector, increased agricultural production and market access, employment creation across age and gender, and improved welfare and public service delivery. It is emphasizing reducing exclusion, increasing regional and national integration, and promoting green and climate resilient investments. Through its regional approach, the Bank is promoting integration in the Mano River Union countries (Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone). Improved infrastructure is the best assurance for the economies of scale required for sustained economic growth. It would also help encourage investments and reliance on production rather than on proceeds from natural resources.

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