Africa was notable for being the region most ready to stand by
Paul Wolfowitz, as criticism of the World Bank President
reached a climax at the mid-April IMF/ World Bank spring
meetings in the process drowning out the former US
assistant defence secretarys heartfelt calls for donors
to keep a focus on the big priorities, led by Africa.
Prominent among those now shaping the contemporary African
economy and backing Wolfowitz was African Development Bank
president Donald Kaberuka, who flew to Washington to stand
shoulder to shoulder with the beleaguered World Bank head. An
accomplished diplomat, Kaberuka has been energetic in flying
the AfDB flag at a time when several rich nations are reneging
on their pledged contributions to meet a $50 billion increase
in aid to developing countries by 2010. According to the
Paris-based OECD, aid to Africa (excluding debt relief) fell by
5% in 2006 despite the widely trumpeted big push
for the continent.
Kaberuka met Wolfowitz and European Union development
commissioner Louis Michel to rally the donor troops in
Washington. As Wolfowitz and Michel spoke of Africa reaching a
turning point, Kaberuka added: Africa is
making progress; we would like to maintain the momentum, and
its time to redouble our efforts.
Other Africans chipped in, with Liberias finance
minister, Antoinette Sayeh, briefing journalists on
Wolfowitzs visionary leadership, while her
Zambian counterpart, Ngandu Magande, gave full backing to
the World Banks anti-corruption campaign.
Kaberuka took over the AfDB presidency in 2005, the same year
as Wolfowitz moved to the World Bank. The two have worked
together closely to maximize the benefits for Africa from the
big aid push for Africa announced at the G8 summit in
Gleneagles in July 2005.
Behind the outward shows of bonhomie, Kaberuka has to make some
tough decisions on strategy. However the World Bank leadership
crisis plays out, the institution will be weakened in the short
term and its work in Africa could suffer. That partly accounts
for the African caucus strong support for Wolfowitz. A
weaker World Bank doesnt translate into a stronger
Under Kaberukas pres-idency, the AfDBs work has
been more tightly focused he says putting
particular emphasis... on water, health and education, issues
of energy, roads, technical training, water manage-ment and the
role of governance and institution building.
Both the AfDB and World Bank are raising money this year for
their soft loan affiliates. The African Development Fund is
negotiating its eleventh replenishment and wants a
substantial boost to the previous $5.4 billion. The
World Bank hopes for more than the $33 billion raised in its
International Development Association 14 replenishment; about
half of IDA funds go to Africa.
The AfDB is going into this process in a stronger position than
the Bank. It has stepped up operations sharply over the past
two years and has strong support from its African and
non-regional shareholders to increase the tempo of its
operations further over the next three years.
By contrast there are mounting concerns that the World
Banks efforts to raise funds for IDA will become a
proxy battleground for divisions among the
Banks shareholders over Wolfowitzs leadership. Some
donors might use it as an excuse to scale back
AfDB director for country programmes and policy Joseph
Eichenberger says the African bank is in a radically
different place to its position a decade ago.
Africas best sustained growth rates for more than 20
years have created a moment of confidence for the
organization and for the continent.
Eichenberger says the AfDB will have to make its case robustly
in an ever more crowded marketplace: competing alongside the
multi-laterals are increasingly significant private sector
charities such as the Gates Foundation and the myriad
vertical or specialist agencies dealing exclusively
with such issues as HIV/Aids.
The AfDB is a high-performing institution,
Eichenberger tells Emerging Markets: I believe [its]
greater selectivity, the improved quality and the new
management team can help make a case to the donor
The replenishments success is vital to maintain record
growth levels. Lending activities reached $3.4 billion in 2006,
a 32% increase over 2005; of this, $2 billion was lent through
the concessional AfDF window. Kaberuka stresses the importance
of boosting both wings of the institution simultaneously:
hes particularly enthusiastic about the AfDBs loan
of some $500 million to support Egypts financial
Also growing fast are private sector operations, which doubled
to $412 million in 2006. Eichenberger predicts these could
easily double to $1 billion and bring private financiers into
the picture. The AfDB has never worked actively on the
private sector. The climate has changed and now the door is
open, he argues.
GIVING TO THE
Drawing on his experience as finance minister of post-genocide
Rwanda, Kaberuka is determined the AfDB should do much more to
work with post-conflict and fragile states. We have a
programme to help those countries clear their debt arrears so
they can engage with the international financial community. Now
we are working towards the next stage, kick-starting the
economy, creating institutions and getting growth rates up
again. This can help tackle regional
contagion, Kaberuka says: Conflicts do not
simply affect countries in which the conflicts take place, they
have huge spill-over effects in the neighbourhood.
The AfDB is set to play a leading international role: We
have got to come up with a framework with the other partners,
for countries like Liberia, Sierra Leone, the Democratic
Republic of Congo and others, Kaberuka says. My
modest experience in Rwanda... has shown me that it can be
Having finally got its own house in order, the AfDBs
African-ness can work to its advantage. Kaberuka
says: We have comparative advantages as an African
institution. We know Africa better. We want to bring another
perspective to the same issues on the table such as
development and regional integration.