Friday, May 16, 2014

AfDB at 50

The African DevelopmentBank (AfDB) celebrates it’s 50th anniversary this year with special events that coincide the with banks annual general meetings in Rwanda. Ahead, of that, there was a breakfast event in Nairobi today to share highlights of AfDB’s first 50 years and it’s plans for the next half century.

Some comments: 

Gabriel Negatu (Regional Director of the bank’s East Africa resource centre)
  • The bank now has an AAA rating, and capital of $103 billion, half of which is subscribed by non-regional members (the latest being Luxembourg)
  • The bank has lent over $100 billion with the bulk of that going to infrastructure (over 40% through water, energy, transport, ICT), then finance and agriculture (12% each) 
  • Kenya became a member in 1967, and since then AfDB  has provided support worth $3.1 billion ($1.3 billion to the public sector via 28 projects like the Thika Highway and the Mombasa-Addis road)  and over $1 billion to the private sector (through financing projects like LakeTurkana Wind
  • Their current funding is via the AfDB, an AfDB fund (non-concessional) and a Nigeria Trust Fund, but they plan another $100 billion fund to further unlock Africa’s growth.
  • Lamented that while the bank has helped Africa reduce the number of it’s population who lived below $1.25 per day, that achievement has been compromised by the continent raid population growth. Also that none of the 50 top countries in the world were from Africa, and none of the top 50 in Africa were from East Africa!
Michael Kamau (Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Transportation - and architect of the Thika Highway project
  • Noted that the AfDB had free learning resource center in Upper Hill Nairobi that more Kenyans should visit and utilize
  • He did the concept Thika Highway with Donald Kaberuka at Serena hotel - and that later became his job to do. It turned out to be a difficult project that had many challenges including resettlement of people & infrastructure (did Kenya Power overcharge for moving poles/line?), and working with no Nairobi City Council plans/maps of laid services. But he said if they waited for perfect circumstances to do the highway project ,it would never have happened (and his job was on the line) . 
  • He expects similar challenges to arise as they start the expansion of 13 kilometers of Nairobi’s Outer Ring Road which also has a common African problem of dealing with people who politicians have encouraged to settle on road space - but notes that AfDB sticks around unlike other financiers who get cold feet in such circumstances.
  • He said AfDB is sometimes a better mediator of country relations than the Ministry of Foreign Affairs - noting that under the bank's regional connectivity initiative they have done a lot like arranging for delegations of Kenya and Ethiopia to travel to Tunis and meet at the AfDB meet with special sessions where road, power, border point agreements were finalized. Similar connectivity projects are on-going via AfDB supported roads between Kenya and Tanzania, including one between Holili, Tanzania and Taveta Kenya which when is actually the shortest route  to connect to Burundi and South Rwanda.
  • - AfDB also quickly mobilized funding for the construction of temporary terminal at Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta airport after fire destroyed a large part of the airport in 2013.

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