On March 17, 2016, the Fourteenth Replenishment of the African Development Fund (ADF-14) began its first meeting, which will be held in camera over two days in Abidjan, where the African Development Bank (AfDB) has its headquarters.
In his opening address (video), AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina - who is also president of the ADF - emphasized the importance of this first meeting on the 14th replenishment of the Fund. This replenishment is crucial to enable the ADF and the Bank Group as a whole to "help deliver on the expectations, thereby improving the lives of hundreds of millions of vulnerable and impoverished people in Africa, particularly women and children," he said.
Members of the Board of Directors and Board of Governors of the Bank Group are also taking part in the meeting, as are other prominent public figures, representatives of ADF-eligible countries and development partners.
Accustomed to ADF meetings, in which she never fails to participate as a representative of a beneficiary country of the Fund, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf highlighted at the outset "how crucial it is for the Fund to sustain its valuable assistance to Africa." (Read her speech here or watch it on video here.)
The ADF is crucial in that it is the epicentre of the mobilization of resources allocated to funding development projects carried out by the Bank Group in the thirty or so African countries that are eligible for loans and grants, made to them on preferential terms and well-defined criteria. These are the most fragile countries of the continent which, without the ADF, would not have access to the funding that is essential to their development.
It is thanks to the ADF that many development projects take place such as - among numerous other examples - the NERICA project (video) or the Ketta-Djoum to Congo-Brazzaville road (video). Like the Bank Group, within which it is one the major entities, the ADF has a vocation that could hardly be more ambitious: Changing the lives of the most vulnerable African populations.
ADF-14 is taking place in difficult times. The world economic situation has seen better days: "The ADF-14 negotiations are taking place at a critical juncture," said the Liberian President and co-winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace, "with numerous challenges facing Africa and the world economies. Johnson Sirleaf went on to say, "the economic slowdown in emerging markets has adversely affected the international prices of principal commodity exports and resultantly the macroeconomic and financial conditions."
Falling world raw materials prices, climate change that particularly affects Africa, a lack of infrastructure, population growth and urban sprawl, unemployment and youth employment, heightened insecurity and risk of terrorism in some regions of the continent, fragile states... The challenges that Africa must meet are considerable. Not to mention health-related problems made more acute in the last two years by the spread of the Ebola virus, causing the loss of thousands of lives and severe economic losses in the most-affected countries of West Africa (Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone). The AfDB was at the forefront of the fight against Ebola, said the Liberian President, paying tribute to everything that the ADF and the Bank Group overall are accomplishing for the development of Africa.
Responding to the many challenges facing Africa requires funding of commensurate size. And ambitions for the development of the continent are also on the rise, stressed AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina on the first day of the meeting: The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted at the United Nations in September 2015, are bolder even than the MDGs that preceded them. The Addis Ababa Programme of Action of Financing for Development agreed to in July 2015 and the global agreement on climate change ratified at COP21 in December 2015, are a few of the global commitments that will move the continent forward.
This first meeting behind closed doors was coordinated by Richard Manning, a high-ranking British official, expert in development matters and with outstanding knowledge of Africa, who will produce a conference report for the AfDB President at its conclusion.
ADF-14 negotiations, which will be held over several meetings, will determine the amount of resources available for allocation over the next three years in full accord with the Bank's Ten-Year Strategy, for the development of the most vulnerable African countries and the well-being of their populations.
ADF resources are replenished every three years. This is the fourteenth replenishment, intended to mobilize the funds necessary for the period 2017 to 2019. ADF-13, held in 2013, led to the mobilization of US $1.8 billion.