African Development Bank is much more than critic suggests

African Development Bank is much more than critic suggests
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The June 10 opinion article by a Daniel Runde titled “The US should ask more of the African Development Bank before considering a capital increase” betrays a lack of understanding of the work of the African Development Bank and its impact on the African continent.

Mr. Runde states, “The U.S. and other large contributors that are non-regional shareholders do not get as much voice and vote for the money they contribute. At the World Bank, the U.S. has 15.7 percent of voting power and a de facto veto, and the U.S. does not hold a similar veto power in the AfDB.”

The African Development Bank has had a historic and long-standing good relationship with the United States and the World Bank, and continues to do so. However, to suggest that a regional or non-regional shareholder should have veto power over and above other members is in stark contradiction to the collective vision and spirit of the founding fathers of the African Development Bank. That vision was to ensure the bank provided a balanced voice to all its shareholders. Humility, respect and consensus are hallmarks of the decision-making processes of our governance structures.

The opinion piece questions why the bank is holding its annual meetings in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. This was the outcome of a transparent bidding process approved by the Board of Directors of the Bank.

To say that the bank “spends too little money on lots of things to be effective,” is inaccurate. Today, we stand at the forefront of helping Africa achieve accelerated development. Between 2015 – 2018 alone, the African Development Bank’s High5 strategy — to light up and power Africa, feed Africa, industrialize Africa, integrate Africa, and improve the quality of life for the people of Africa — has had significant development results, as shown in the last three annual effectiveness reviews for 20162017 and 2018.

Which is why Mr. Runde’s suggestion that “many African countries may be more receptive to advisory services on issues related to conflict and violence,” rather than the High5s, misses the point. The bank works in some of the world's most fragile environments and engages in enhanced policy dialogue at the highest levels of government.

In Johannesburg in 2018, the bank launched the Africa Investment Forum, a fully transactional platform, to attract investment into Africa, with participation from private sector investors, pension and sovereign wealth funds, Heads of State and government officials to discuss specific investment deals. The Africa Investment Forum was an outstanding success by all measures. The forum delivered an impressive US$38.7 billion in investment interests — all done in less than 72 hours!

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The bank is efficiently managed and — at 2 percent — has one of the lowest administrative cost per adjusted common equity ratios among all multilateral development banks, one of many factors considered by Standard & Poor’s.

In 2018, the African Development Bank was -

  • ranked among the Top 3 Multilateral Organizations by the Multilateral Organizations Performance Assessment Network (MOPAN) a report prepared by 19 advanced economies; a three-way tie for first shared with the World Bank and the IDBG;
  • recognized as 4th most transparent among 45 global institutions by Publish What You Fund;
  • ranked 4th among the top 100 employers to work for in Africa in a 2018 survey.

We continue to strengthen our partnerships with Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs), including Inter-American Development Bank, European Investment Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Islamic Development Bank, International Finance Corporation and World Bank, as well as bilateral partners, contrary to the assertion in the piece. Indeed, as current chairperson of the Presidents of Multilateral Development Banks, President Akinwumi Adesina of the African Development Bank is leading efforts to reinforce the spirit of working together to address common global challenges.

Again, contrary to Mr. Runde’s conjecture, President Adesina is the only Nigerian member of the Bank’s diverse senior leadership group, which includes Ghanaian, South African, Belgian, Cameroonian, Egyptian, Mozambican and Swiss-American nationals.

The African Development Bank is mandated by the African Union to lead the mobilization of resources for the continent. As Africa's premier development finance institution, we continue to work with our partners and shareholder member countries to advocate for greater transparency and good governance, to achieve a more prosperous future for Africa.

Strong partnerships have been forged with key U.S. institutions and initiatives, such as USAID, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, OPIC, Power Africa, and Young African Leadership Initiative.

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The U.S. remains a strategic partner to Africa, and its Bank. Evidence of this was on full display during the recent visit of Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpTrump reversed course on flavored e-cigarette ban over fear of job losses: report Trump to tour Apple factory with Tim Cook on Wednesday Resistance or unhinged behavior? Partisan hatred reaches Trump's family MORE and members of the U.S. Congress to Cote d’Ivoire. The result of their positive interaction with Dr. Adesina, is the investment of US$61.8 million in the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA), an initiative to leverage US$3 billion for women-owned businesses in Africa.

Achieving the strategic priorities of the African Development Bank’s High 5s will allow the continent to achieve 90 per cent of the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2063 — the vision of Africa’s leaders for the continent.

African Heads of State are thinking big and so is the African Development Bank. The General Capital Increase for the Bank will give Africa an additional impetus to fast track its growth and development.

Dr. Victor Oladokun is Director of Communication & External Relations for the African Development Bank, Côte d’Ivoire