The African Development Bank Group will unveil its new agenda for the continent’s economic transformation at this year’s Annual Meetings scheduled to take place from May 23-27 in Lusaka, Zambia.
In an Annual Meetings preview video message, Akinwumi Adesina, who will be presiding over his first Annual Meetings since assuming office as the Bank’s 8th President on September 1, 2015, said that participants will examine a host of burning issues in Africa as well as focus on the Bank’s five new priority actions – the High 5s – designed to scale up its operations for the continent’s transformation.
These are: Light up and power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialise Africa, Integrate Africa, and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.
“Each of those is high on the agenda in Lusaka,” Adesina said, noting that three of them will take a quantum leap forward as the Bank unveils new strategies, and a programme to create 25 million jobs for young people over the next decade.
“All of them need to be debated and owned, as much by governments, as by business, as by civil society, as by the press, as by the people of Africa. The agenda is huge: We want to see nothing less than the social and economic transformation of Africa. We want to unleash massive potential – for Africa and for the world,” he emphasized.
A central theme of the discussion will be energy, considered to be the continent’s Achilles’ heel and the central theme of the Annual Meetings –‘Energy and Climate Change.’ This topmost priority of the High 5s speaks to the Bank’s determination to tackle the severe energy deficit in the continent where 650 million people don’t have access to electricity.
Governors, usually Finance or Economy Ministers, representing the 54 African and 26 non-Africa member countries of the Bank Group will review its 2015 operations report and approve its activities and budget for the coming year. In 2015, the Bank Group made loans and grants of USD 8.8 billion, a 25% increase on 2014.
During the high-level meetings and thematic forums, participants will make in-depth assessments of the performance of Africa countries in the past year and envision how the Bank can help them cope with the difficult economic situation they face due to the global economic downturn and the fall in commodity prices.
Despite the prevailing “economic headwinds”, the continent has demonstrated extraordinary resilience, posting growth rates of 4%, a percentage point higher than the global average and even higher in some countries in 2015, President Adesina said.
Several heads of state are expected to attend the meetings, the Bank’s flagship event that is expected to bring together some 3,000 delegates. Other invitees include development partners, representatives of international organisations, academia, civil society and the media.
“The Annual Meetings are the Bank’s window on the world. They showcase its operational work; its knowledge work; its advocacy work; and its convening power,” Adesina said.