The governors noted that 370 AfDB transformative projects valued at US$11.3 billion between 2010 and 2017 had changed lives and made a difference in the region.
These were the second annual consultative meetings, aimed at sharing views with the governors, after the first ever meetings in the bank’s history were initiated by AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina last year.
“Our ultimate goal is to ensure that the governors are much closer to the bank, and that you are integrally involved in the wider vision and direction, particularly as it pertains to the challenges and needs of your respective regions,” Adesina said in his opening remarks.
“Today, I am filled with hope. Hope because Africa is changing. Hope because across the continent, despite challenges, you can see a rising determination to turn things around,” he added.
During the consultations, the ministers appealed for greater focus on women to close the gender gap, address climate change, and increase attention to development in fragile states.
Referring to AfDB the economic arm of the African Union, the governors also highlighted the need for the bank to be involved in global issues in order to influence and help shape the conversations around foreign investments.
They also focused on institutional capacity building, nutrition, data collection as well as regional integration and digital connectivity.
Sierra Leone Finance minister Jacob Jusu Saffa underscored the need “to mobilise domestic funds and use our pension funds more efficiently”, comments which were echoed by his Nigerian counterpart, Mahmoud Isa-Dutse.
“Infrastructure is very critical. We hope the bank will continue to support and add value to our one government data platform, Liberia’s Agriculture minister Mogana Flomo said.
Ministers from Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea and Guinea Bissau similarly called for increased support for institutional capacity building.
Economic growth trends show positive signals: GDP growth rate was projected at 4 per cent last year and to rise to 4.1 per cent this year.
However, this does not give the full picture: the economies of 45 per cent of the countries will grow at above 5 per cent. These figures on West Africa’s regional economic outlook were shared by AfDB Vice President and chief economist Celestin Monga in his presentation before the governors.
The governors, all Finance or Economic Planning ministers in their respective countries, were taken through the bank’s interventions and lendings over the past year in presentations by the bank’s senior management.
The year 2018 was a strong one for AfDB’s flagship projects and innovative financial instruments with 65 projects, in 15 countries, valued at US $ 2.8 billion, approved for the region.
The Senegambia Bridge, financed solely by the bank, was inaugurated in January – a historic development and a dream come true for both Senegal and Gambia.
The Regional Express Train, the first speed train in West Africa, financed by the bank, was inaugurated in Dakar, Senegal. The bank also financed the construction of a modern international airport in Ghana. Ghana’s national Cocoa Board received a financing plan of $600 million to enable measures to improve productivity and build warehouses.
The Desert to Power Initiative, which is meant to develop 10,000 MW of solar zone all across the Sahel, is expected to provide electricity for 250 million people – 90 million of them via off-grid solar systems. The project has already started in Burkina Faso, with the Yelen solar project.
“But the needs in Africa are high and we still have a long way to go,” Adesina said, before recalling the bank’s board of directors’ authorisation to engage in discussions with its shareholders for a General Capital Increase.
“Let’s think how much development we want to have in Africa and how much we are willing to pay for it… Not be too focused on how much it would cost,” he said.
“Let’s think how much development we want to have in Africa and how much we are willing to pay for it. It is not so much what we can afford: it is what Africa deserves. Under-development is more expensive,” he added.
Many of the governors expressed support for a General Capital Increase. Ghanaian Finance minister Kenneth Ofori Atta acknowledged the bank’s comparative advantage, saying it was about trust. “Africa trusts the Bank,” he said.