Bank to the Future : New Era at the AfDB
The African Development Bank (AfDB), founded in 1964, has as its main purpose to provide capital to alleviate poverty, improve living conditions and spur economic and social development. It is the largest external funder of infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa. The Bank has demonstrated an ability to co-ordinate appropriate continental responses to external threats as well as resilience - under the astute leadership of Donald Kaberuka. In 2009, a doubling of loan and grant approvals to US$8 billion helped to mitigate the effects on Africa of a global recession. The following year,shareholders approved a threefold increase of the AfDB’s capital base. The Bank has forged partnerships with the private sector to fund investment in infrastructure, which it regards as the basic requirement to accelerate economic growth and encourage foreign direct investment and regional trade. It has established itself as a leading source of knowledge on development, provider of technical expertise and trusted advocate for the interests of a continent undergoing rapid change and economic growth. On 27 May, the Board of Governors will elect a new president at its 50th annual meeting. With donor finance static since the global financial crisis, there are constraints in the Bank’s funding model. Its non-African shareholders demand that the Bank take on more complex roles than traditional project lending. With limited resources, the AfDB is being called upon to lead on issues where it either lacks experience or will find it hard to demonstrate success, including the development of post-conflict and fragile states, regional integration, trade negotiation, gender equality, climate change and infectious disease control. Kaberuka’s successor will face a difficult task.