(AfDB) - East African governors of the African Development Bank on Wednesday commended the institution for approving transformative projects valued at $13.8 billion since 2010.
The projects in ICT, education, public finance, energy, transport, water and sanitation sectors, make the institution “a trusted partner for delivering innovative solutions” the governors noted during consultative meetings with the institution’s president and senior management.
Governors and representatives from Burundi, Djibouti, Rwanda, Comoros, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda attended the high-level meetings.
The meetings were an opportunity for Governors to pitch regional needs and highlight country-specific opportunities.
According to Makki Mohamed Abdelrahim Alian, temporary Governor for Sudan, “Sudan needs the Bank’s High 5s because it addresses Sudan’s needs.” Alian said through the Feed Africa program “Africa can feed itself and feed the world, as well as pioneer healthy food production, which is in demand globally.”
Ahmed Shide, Ethiopia’s Finance Minister said, “Ethiopia is keen to advance regional integration and consolidate its peace agreement with Eritrea in order to leverage the Bank’s support for regional infrastructure projects. There are many opportunities to work with the Bank on our ambitious infrastructure projects.”
In response, Bank President Akinwumi Adesina said: “There’s no doubt that the landmark signing of the peace accord between Ethiopia and Eritrea has opened up a lot more opportunities for investments by the Bank in the Horn of Africa.”
Adesina acknowledged the leading role of the 13 East African regional member states of the African Development Bank Group in the economic transformation of the continent. With 340 million inhabitants, the region is Africa’s fastest growing economic bloc (growing well above the continent’s 4% average growth rate), recording GDP growth of 5.7% in 2018 and projected to grow at 5.9% and 6.1% in 2019 and 2020 respectively.
“Despite this progress, important challenges remain, hampering the quest to eradicate poverty and galvanize growth and economic development in the region,” Celestin Monga, the Bank’s Chief Economist cautioned. He observed that the region remained prone to peace and security threats, climate change, rising public debt and uneven infrastructure development.
Gabriel Negatu, Director General, East Africa Regional Development and Business Delivery Office, showcased several Bank-funded projects. The Bank Group’s current East Africa portfolio is estimated at $11.6 billion. In 2018, its sovereign and non-sovereign approvals stood at $2.18 billion.
The Bank’s regional projects include Africa’s largest wind power plant in Lake Turkana, Kenya, and the Ethiopia-Kenya power interconnection facility.
In Kenya, the Bank’s Last Mile Connectivity project has provided electricity connections to the grid for over 3 million people. The Bugagali hydropower project in Uganda has doubled the country’s electricity supply, reduced bulk tariffs by 66%, and improved affordability for citizens.
According to Negatu, the Addis-Nairobi-Mombasa road has contributed a 5-fold increase to trade volumes between Kenya and Ethiopia.
In the technology space, the Bank-financed 1,900 km submarine cable project from Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania to Seychelles has made access to the internet significantly faster. The Rwanda Innovation Fund has also helped position Rwanda as a hub for ICT services in the region.
The Bank announced the second annual Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg in November 2019. According to Stella Kilonzo, Senior Director of the Africa Investment Forum, “building a strong pipeline of bankable projects well ahead of the forum is a priority.”
Timothy Turner, Group Chief Risk Officer showcased new financial products aimed at optimizing the Bank’s balance sheet, including “Room2Run”, an innovative $1 billion synthetic securitization portfolio.
Governors voiced their support for a general capital increase and offered country-specific testimonials about the transformative impact of the Bank’s projects and investment.
Swazi Tshabalala, Vice President & Chief Finance Officer said, “a general capital increase will boost the Bank’s comparative advantage in governance, resource mobilization, regional integration, infrastructure and private sector development.”
In his closing remarks, President Adesina thanked the Governors for their continued trust in the the Bank. “Your presence here matters. Your voice is critical. Your support is also crucial. I have no doubt you will continue to speak for Africa.”