AfDB 2020 annual meetings climax with election of president

The 55th Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank and the 46th meetings of the Board of Governors of the African Development Fund have begun in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

The meetings were kicked off on Wednesday.

In his opening speech, the President of Côte d’Ivoire, Alassane Ouattara, highlighted the unusual context of this year’s annual meetings, taking place against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, underscoring the bank’s critical support for his country and other regional members.

“This is an opportunity for me to acknowledge the African Development Bank, its President and Board of Directors, for the unwavering support expressed in these difficult times to African states. Indeed, the bank’s COVID-19 Rapid Response Facility has made it possible to finance and support African countries in the fast implementation of plans to fight the pandemic,” Ouattara said.

He praised the “remarkable capacity to adapt that the Bank has shown by continuing its operations and functioning in virtual mode, since March 2020,” and the work accomplished by AfDB’s President, Akinwunmi Adesina “who has successfully led the transformation of the African Development Bank and has given it great credibility and visibility, of which we are proud.”

This year’s meetings are being held virtually due to restrictions occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and the highlights of the 2020 sessions are the (re-)election of the AfDB president and the statutory meetings of its governors, which are being held behind closed doors.

According to estimates by the bank, Africa could lose $173.1bn in gross domestic product in 2020 and $236.7bn in 2021 because of the pandemic.

The restrictions and strict lockdown measures imposed at the start of the crisis, some of which are being gradually relaxed, have resulted in mass closures of businesses and millions of job losses.

Addressing the audience, Adesina lauded the relationship between the institution and Côte d’Ivoire, which is home to the bank’s headquarters.

“With the pandemic, Africa has lost over a decade of gains of economic growth. Africa’s recovery will be long and difficult. Now we must help Africa to build back, boldly, but smartly, paying greater attention to quality growth: health, climate and the environment,” Adesina explained.

During the meetings, governors from the bank’s 54 regional member states in Africa and 27 non-regional member states, will also evaluate the response to the pandemic, which will help to build a truly resilient post-COVID-19 Africa.

Nialé Kaba, Ivorian Minister for Planning and Development in Côte d’Ivoire, and president of the bank’s board of governors, stressed that the pandemic was, in spite of all, an opportunity to “take up the challenge of the digitisation of our economies.”

The bank’s annual meetings are attended by ministers of finance, central bank governors, political decision-makers, civil society organisations, heads of international organisations and key representatives of industry and the private sector.

The governors will vote to elect the bank’s president on Thursday.

Adesina, the first Nigerian to occupy the role, was elected by the bank’s board of governors for a five-year term on 28 May 2015 at the 50th annual meetings, which took place in Abidjan.

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