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Highlights: Day 2 of the African Development Bank Group’s 2020 Annual Meetings

27/08/2020

The African Development Bank Group on Thursday climaxed its 2020 Annual Meetings with a decisive reelection of President Akinwumi Adesina for a second five-year term as the pan-African development body gears up to support the continent’s COVID-19 recovery efforts.

“It shows your demonstrated weight of support for my vision. It shows a very clear extra mandate from all shareholders to go and implement the vision. It shows that all voices were heard,” Adesina said.

Adesina was first elected in May 2015 at the 50th Annual Meetings held in the Ivorian capital, Abidjan.

Virtual Meetings

This year’s Annual Meetings were held virtually for the first time to comply with COVID-19 social-distancing guidelines.

The three-day meetings provided a platform for the Bank Group’s shareholders to evaluate what has been a productive but challenging year, mainly due to the massive socio-economic impacts occasioned by the pandemic. Ireland, the newest and the 81st shareholder, participated for the first time.

The delegates discussed ways that the Bank will support Africa to build better after COVID-19, as well as further strengthen the institution and deepen its governance and financial sustainability to enable it to deliver its mandate. They also deliberated on regional trade, integration, youth employment, climate, gender and debt sustainability, and how to focus on quality health infrastructure to build economic resilience for Africa.

Aside from its traditional support for its regional member countries, the Bank also launched a $10 billion COVID-19 Response Facility to support African states to cushion them against the devastating effects of the disease. The Bank also raised a record $3 billion in social bonds on the global market.

From Côte d’Ivoire to Ghana

As with the tradition of the Annual Meetings, this year’s closing session featured the formal transfer of authority from Nialé Kaba, Ivorian Minister for Planning and Development, the current Chairperson of the Board of Governors, to Ghanaian Finance Minister Kenneth Ofori-Atta, whose country will host next year’s Annual Meetings in May 2021.

In his acceptance speech, Ofori-Atta commended his predecessor for her “incredible strength, fortitude and wisdom” in successfully guiding the Bank in the challenging COVID-19 period.

He commended the unanimity displayed by the Governors during the meetings and their support for Africa’s future, which will require collective and strenuous efforts to help it build back from the loss inflicted by the pandemic.

“We urgently need, across African economies, liquidity, debt sustainability solutions and capital for recovery in order to truly emerge from this pandemic. We need tailored solutions to our problems (and) as Africa’s premier Bank, the AfDB is best suited to play this role in such a time as this,” he added.

He called on the Governors to support efforts to avert a potential debt default by member countries in the coming years.

Silver lining

There was also reason for celebration. Group President Adesina led a successful seventh General Capital Increase that saw the Bank’s general capital from $93 billion to $208 billion currently. This, Ofori-Atta said, places the Bank in a position to make a real impact.

He also recalled plans to begin the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area deal in January 2021 in what will become the world’s largest free trade area with a potential market of 1.2 billion people and combined GDP of around $3 trillion across the 54 regional member states of the Bank.

To read the final communique from the Board of Governors, click here.