The 2021 African Development Bank Group Annual Meetings were held virtually in Ghana on Wednesday 23rd June 2021 and ended on Friday 25th June 2021.
The Annual General Meeting was opened with discussions on African debt management, the COVID-19 pandemic, the huge financing burden on governments and its widened budget deficits.
The African Development Bank hosted panel discussions on the various issues and one notably discussion was titled “From Debt Resolution to Growth: The Way Forward for Africa”.
Ghanaian President, Akufo-Addo calls for strong partnerships and vigilant to tackle Covid-19 challenges.
He added that, “Today’s annual meetings have an appropriate focus, ‘building resilient economies in post COVID-19 in Africa’, which is an unavoidable imperative if our continent is to recover from the effects of the pandemic.”
President Akufo-Addo recounted the pandemic’s toll in human lives, as well as in economic damage, which he described as massive loss of jobs and revenue, economic contraction, and rising deficits.
He urged for continued concerted actions, adding the surest path towards stability is to abandon half-hearted partnerships and develop new approaches that support self-sustaining economic growth and development. He praised the African Development Bank’s rapid response to the pandemic and called for more support for the continent’s foremost development institution.
“We need to resource the African Development Bank and position it as the catalyst for our economic advancement,” he said.
The Chairman of the Bank’s Board of Governors, Ghana’s Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta, referred to an African financial stability mechanism that was recently proposed by the African Development Bank President was modeled on a European one, and an African liquidity and sustainability mechanism.
“The African stability mechanism will be a permanent firewall for Africa to provide instant emergency access to financial assistance to countries in difficulty,” he said.
Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission commended the African Development Bank as a partner and lauded its efforts that led to the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area and the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Today, more than ever before, Africa needs to build up its health infrastructure and the manufacture of vaccines,” Faki said.
African Development Bank President, Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina said, “The deep scars left by the COVID-19 pandemic (in Africa) will take time to heal”.
As a result of the pandemic, he said that the continent’s GDP fell by 2.1% in 2020 and poverty and inequality are increasing. He added that at least 30 million Africans fell into extreme poverty in 2020 and another 39 million could follow in poverty in 2021. The debt-to-GDP ratio is expected to increase by 10-15 percentage points in 2021 and debt is a pervasive concern.
Managing Director of the IMF Kristalina Georgieva, said, the best way to manage debt is for economies to grow. As governments face reduced revenues and increased spending on crisis measures, this he said, is not an easy task during the pandemic. However, he said that this crisis is an opportunity for transformative reforms to improve public service.”
Other participants in the African Development Bank Group annual meetings opening ceremony also said the Bank would be critical to build back more resilient economies in the post-pandemic period.
The three-day Annual Meeting was climaxed with a virtual press conference on Friday, 25 June 2021, to close the Bank’s 2021 Annual Meetings.
Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group, was the host and joined by Mr. Kenneth Ofori-Atta, Ghana’s Finance Minister and current African Development Bank Chairman of the Board of Governors, and the Bank’s Acting Senior Vice President, Ms. Bajabulile Swazi Tshabalala.
During the three-day Annual Meetings, governments and other key stakeholders exchanged views and recommendations on debt, public financial management, and economic governance in African countries. Also, they discussed strategies and interventions to address climate change, promote green growth, and strengthen Africa’s healthcare system in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Embassy of Sierra Leone,
Seoul, South Korea.