From 19th to 23rd this Month Rwanda hosted African Development Bank’s 49th annual meeting in the capital Kigali. The historical event lasted for five days. Under the theme: The next 50 years; The Africa We want, over 3500 people descended at Kigali International Airport in Kanombe to sit and discuss the Continent’s future but mainly get to a common understanding of the real Africa they want.
In a series of sessions held during the five-day annual meeting of African Development Bank Group, delegates who included Heads of States and Governments, former Heads of States and Governments, Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors from the Bank’s 54 regional member countries (RMCs), delegates representing multilateral finance institutions, development agencies, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, civil society and the media, jointly sat under state-of-the-art Serena Hotel Villages to discuss Africa’s future.
The sessions were mainly dominated by looking towards the next half century and what it hopes to achieve on the continent. A series of high-level seminars and side events looked at the Continent’s economic, social and political issues and came up with solutions to ensure a better future for Africans.
At this annual meeting, delegates also discussed and reviewed the Bank’s 2013 operations and its 2014 development funding portfolio, as well as the objectives for the African region in key areas such as regional integration and trade, infrastructure, private sector development, job creation, governance and green growth.
The African Development Bank Group also took the opportunity of the meeting to celebrate its 50th anniversary, with events expected throughout the year, culminating in a week-long celebration in November in Abidjan, to coincide with the Bank’s return to its official headquarters in Côte d’Ivoire.
Guided by the annual meeting’s theme, different personalities ended the week-long meeting on high; with everyone giving out his or her opinion on ‘What Africa’ they want.
For Rwandan President, Paul Kagame, “Africa needs to focus more on delivering results to get better. We have spent many years looking for solutions to Africa’s problems, without paying much attention to what really needs to be done and how best to be done effectively for us to achieve results. We know the problems and sometimes discuss solutions but the missing link is getting things done,” said Kagame, who was also praised for successfully hosting the Bank’s annual meeting.
Kagame’s opinion did not go unsupported by his fellow heads of States and Governments. Next to add on Kagame’s tone was Gabonese President, Ali Bongo Ondimba.
For President Ondimba, Africa’s natural resources should be efficiently utilized to benefit the Continent’s young generation.
“We have to transform our natural resources into industrial resources to create jobs for the young ones and this leads to growth and Development.”
According to Kenya’s vice President, William Ruto, his ambition for the next Africa is a Continent with “Leadership that can take critical, bold and decisive decisions and initiatives that can transform the continent. Often times, we know the problems as well as solutions, but getting leadership commitment needed to solve them remains a challenge. The time has come for Africans leaders to focus more on delivering results,” said the young-looking deputy President.
Africa needed is the one full of opportunities for all, free from violence
For veteran players in the game like former Nigeria President Olusegun Obasanjo, and former South African President Thabo Mbeki who attended the meeting, they dream to leave behind a continent that is free from violence, oppression and a Continent that provide opportunities for all citizens.
Former President Obasanjo said that: “We all want to see Africa where nobody will feel oppressed; where everybody will have an opportunity and be able to develop their full potentials; an African where there will be democracy and full participation in socio-political and economic development.”
For former South African President Thabo Mbeki: “We want an Africa that is free from violence, war and poverty; an African that is driven by Women participation and free from corruption. We also need a critical, truthful self-assessment of ourselves to ascertain where we have gone wrong, where we are going and where we need to go.”
On a continental level, the chairperson of the African Union-the Continent’s block, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, also highlighted her personal opinion on the Africa she wants as well what the block thinks the Continent should look like in years to come.
“We need a leadership that thinks about Africa as a whole, not about their Countries because together we are a big Continent but individually we are very small. We need leadership that believes that Africans, especially the young people can be the best…leadership that will invest heavily in the youth. That’s the only way that can lead us to prosperity.”
Effective management of the Continent’s natural resources
According to different African Finance Ministers at the annual meeting, effective management of the Continent’s natural resources should be prioritized if Africans want to see a developed continent in future.
Kerfalla Yansane is the Minister of Mines in Guinea Conakry. Speaking at the end of the annual meeting, he called for transparency in effective management of African natural resources as the only way that will drive the Continent to prosperity.
“Transparency is important for efficient management of public financial and natural resources which fosters inclusive growth. There is a need to ensure that natural resource proceeds benefit our people especially host communities. We need to ensure we have a win-win partnership with mining companies to make sure they are profitable as well as benefit the masses. We also need the political will to ensure the natural resources are fully used for the benefit of the people.”
Is Africa free from imperialism?
Despite all these revelations made by African leaders, the biggest challenge remains that some African Countries still live under the influence of their former colonies.
Stevenson Mugisha, a business editor with the weekly Focus newspaper in Rwanda, believes that Africa will only attain its full independence and development if its leaders work hard and get rid of economic and political imperialism by their former colonies.
“There are a number of African Countries especially those which are former French colonies in West Africa that are still fully dependent on these Westerners. I cannot mention them here but some even are forced to buy food and clothes from France. They do this despite their natural resources that can fully fund every development project they may come up with. This is what still hinders African development,” said Mugisha.
AfDB as a driving engine to Africa’s prosperity
Since its inception in 1964, the African Development Bank (AfDB) has been the Continent’s premier development finance institution. According to its current President, Dr. Donald Kaberuka, the financial institution was established to purposely mobilize resources for the economic and social development of its regional member countries (RMCs) by focusing on poverty reduction and promoting sustainable growth.
According to its financial figures, the Bank has approved loans and grants totaling about US $104 billion to its member Countries between 1967 to December 31, 2013.
With amount of cash injected in different development projects across the Continent, Dr. Kaberuka told delegates at the meeting that the institution plans to splash in more cash to ensure its mission of developing the Continent is maintained. Kaberuka believes that together, poverty can be eradicated.
For Kaberuka, “The Africa We Want is embodied in the African Union’s Agenda 2063, which is the realisation of a continent that is integrated, people-centred, prosperous and at peace with itself.”