“When you put your forces together, you can achieve the critical mass to be solid player on the global scene,” African Development Bank's Chief Economist and Vice President of Economic Governance & Knowledge Management Celestin Monga told journalists at a press conference ahead of the Bank's Annual Meetings.
Equatorial Guinea will host the Bank's 54th Annual Meeting, from 11-14 June 2019, under the theme ‘Regional integration for Africa's economic prosperity.' The Meetings will bring together about 2000 delegates. They provide a unique forum for governments, businesses, civil society, think tanks, academia, and the media worldwide, to dialogue on critical issues concerning Africa's development.
Secretary-General of the Bank Vincent Nmehielle hosted the press event held at the Bank's headquarters in Abidjan. Senior management in attendance included Vice-president, Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization, Pierre Guislain; Vice President Corporate Services and Human Resources, Mateus Magala and Gauthier Bourlard from the Bank's Resource Mobilization and Partnership Department.
In his opening remarks, Nmehielle explained that the 2019 Annual Meetings are an opportunity to show why regional integration is important. "Equatorial Guinea is one of the most developed countries in Africa, but not many people know that," he added.
The meetings will include statutory sittings of the Governors and shareholders of the Bank, and a series of knowledge events, including discussions around the Africa Economic Outlook, one of the Bank's flagship reports. A High-Level Presidential Dialogue on Boosting Africa's Economic Integration will provide Heads of States an opportunity to discuss challenges and corrective measures to fast track Regional Integration.
Robust conversions on regional value chains in agriculture are on the meetings’ agenda.
"Trade is and will remain the main engine of growth for many of our countries. More than 60% of global trade now occurs in global value chains. We need to see that African economies are getting into global value chains, not just to process unprocessed raw commodities but transform goods creating value additions, creation jobs locally," Monga noted.
Over 75 percent of Sub-Saharan African countries have a population of less than 25 million, and about half the countries have a gross domestic product (GDP) of less than US$10 billion in 2017 (nominal terms). Deeper market integration for goods, infrastructure services, and key factors to bring together the fragmented economies of Africa.
For Guislain, "Regional integration is part of our core mandate and our DNA. It has been since inception in 1964." A borderless Africa is the foundation of a competitive continental market that could serve as a global business center, journalists' heard.
On the Continental Free Trade Area, which came into force on May 30th, the Bank has provided the grounds to the African Union Commission to launch the Secretariat with close to $ 5 million.
Magala shared an update on the Compact Lusophone and how "it provides an opportunity to strengthen economies of countries that share a common language, history, and culture." He also fielded a few questions from the Portuguese-speaking journalists from Guinea Bissau and Cabo Verde.
Gauthier Bourlard representing the Bank's Resource Mobilization and Partnership Department provided an update on the African Development Fund (ADF) 15th replenishment. ADF, the concessional loan arm of the Bank, seeks to increase funding for fragile countries, focusing on cross cutting themes such as gender, governance, climate change and the private sector. The next round of negotiations with donor countries is slated for early July in Madagascar before a decision is made later in the year.
Twenty-eight journalists from twenty-one Africa countries attended the press conference, moderated by Dr. Victor Oladokun, the Bank's Director of Communication and External Relations. The journalists are taking part in a three-day Sustainable Development Reporting Course, first of its kind at the Bank, organized in collaboration with the Thomson Reuters Foundation.