The African Development Bank (AfDB) says its vision of stable and vibrant African economies by 2022 will be predicated on policy choices made by regional member countries.
Ousman Dore, Resident Representative of the bank in Nigeria, stated this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Abuja.
He expressed concern that growth in African economies had done little to create jobs and reduce poverty for millions on the continent.
“Africa over the last 10 years or so has delivered a very strong performance in macro economic growth and inflation.
“If you look at what happened in the global financial crisis, Africa stood out as a continent that clearly weathered quite well the impact of these crises.
“Notwithstanding this progress, notwithstanding the issue is how you can tackle the main challenge facing the continent and these are clearly obvious.
“Growth has not translated into employment, essentially improvement in living conditions; inequality is still prevalent.
“Aggregate poverty, obviously, may have declined but you see large unemployment particularly on the cohort of the ages between 16 and 24, so it is a big challenge.’’
Dore defended cynicism that the bank’s 2022 vision might be a ``white elephant’’ because the prospect of growth could not be achieved in a continent notorious for poor governance, endemic corruption and conflicts.
“The vision of the ADB is not an empty ambition it is based on what we have observed in the past two decades.
“We believe that in 2022 our vision is that you will likely see in Africa, a continent that is vibrant, growing, stable, prosperous, and there are all ingredients for that to be the case.
“But it should not be taken as `faith’; it will come out to be regardless; it has to be predicated on the policy choice that member countries will make for them to work with ADB to deliver.’’
Dore said the AfDB had started consultations with different key stakeholders in member countries to fashion out a new vision for the 10-year Long Term Strategy programme 2012-2022.
In Nigeria, the consultation took place last Wednesday, he said, and it provided an opportunity for the bank to be on a ``listening mode’’ on what should be done in the next decade.
“Most of what the stakeholders said fitted into what has been AfDB’s strategic orientation which is: let’s do more on infrastructure; let’s do more on agriculture.
“Some insisted on the bank doing more on good governance because if you do not have good governance, take the case of Nigeria, most people believe the government’s transformation agenda cannot be realised,’’ he said.
The bank’s representative described the consultations with Nigeria’s stakeholders as very fruitful, but conceded that some ideas provided by participants were ``provocative.’’
NAN reports that a member of the House of Representative, who participated at the event, suggested ``disbandment’’ of the bank because of its failure to deliver on its development mandate.
Rep. Eseme Eyiboh, Chairman, House Committee on Donor Agencies and Civil Societies, criticised the bank of not having tangible projects on ground to justify its development mandate.
Eyiboh urged the bank to focus on good governance in Nigeria as an issue of concern to the country’s socio-economic development.
“There is no way you can succeed in infrastructure or any of your core mandates if you do not address the issue of governance,’’ he warned.
Established in 1964, the AfDB is the sixth-largest source of aid to the continent and the only major Africa-owned donor.
Nigeria is the largest single shareholder of the bank.