In this interview,
It is one year since the Board held its retreat, mainly focusing on its effectiveness as well as Africa's structural transformation through inclusive growth. As the Dean of the Board, can you take stock of the achievements regarding last year's Board retreat?
The Board has made successful attempts at being more effective in the last year. Its meetings are now more streamlined, with interventions from EDs straight to the point, and less repetitive. Board Committee meetings now focus more on leveraging the contributions of committee members.
We now spend more time on strategic policies and issues that will impact Africa's future and the Bank's wider role on the continent and less on projects. But we can do more in this direction. So we will spend some time at the current retreat to explore ways of strengthening our strategic engagements.
The AfDB Board is today more green than a year ago. Many more documents are now circulated to Board members in electronic format instead of hard copies. In spite of this, we need to make more effort to refrain from printing them. Moreover, Board and Board committee documents are now available on the iPad application that substantially reduces the need to take hard copies to meetings. We need to use these facilities more effectively.
One of the more important instruments was the development of an electronic tool to monitor the recommendations of Board and Board committees. This can significantly contribute to effectiveness and accountability.
I also believe that the Board now functions in a much more collegial way, reducing divisions between different categories of board members and promoting the cross fertilization of ideas.
Through a working group, the Board is working with senior management to ensure that the return to
This year's meeting will deliver on private sector development. To what extent is the theme strategic for the Bank?
The private sector theme for this retreat couldn't have been a better one because Africa's development challenges cannot be handled by governments alone. Consider one example: Africa's infrastructure deficit, which experts believe robs the continent of one to two percent of GDP growth every year. The 48 countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, with their combined population of 800 million, generate roughly the same amount of power as Spain, which has a population of 45 million.
Power consumption in
Experts tell us that Africa's overall infrastructure spending needs are about
Despite Africa's robust growth, the phenomenon of youth unemployment is turning out to be a principal challenge. Youth constitutes more than 60 percent of Africa's total population and accounts for 45 per cent of the total labor force, yet youth unemployment in Sub-Saharan African is estimated to be over 20 per cent. Without the private sector we cannot generate enough jobs in
In summary, the Bank's vision for infrastructure development, green growth, climate change adaptation, jobs and inclusive growth cannot be achieved without partnering with the private sector. This is why today's retreat is focusing on that and why we are listening to successful private sector experts on the ground in
In your view, what is missing for Africa's private sector to influence its economic development?
The private sector in
The private sector, particularly SMEs, suffer from inadequate access to finance. Even when available, the interest rate in most countries is usurious. This bottleneck must be addressed if Africa's private sector is to thrive. It will thrive with more open borders, visa-free travel, unified tax codes across countries, common standards for goods and services and cross-border banking. We call this regional integration. For the private sector to thrive regional integration must be taken seriously by African governments.
What Africa would you want to see in 50 years' time?
I would like to see an Africa at peace with itself in 2064, in harmony from the land of the
In 2064, Africa will have come of age. It will speak with one voice at the UN with a Permanent Seat on the
Africa will see a
I would like to see an Africa in 2064 with a superhighway and fast railway line linking all 54 African capital cities.
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