A week from now, Africa’s premier development finance institution will elect its new president.
Eight candidates are vying for the position, and the African Development Bank’s board of governors is expected to choose the candidate best suited for the job before the annual meetings come to a close.
The deliberation kicks off midweek, and during this time the governors will meet and engage the candidates in dialogue. The eight presidential hopefuls have until then to push for their agendas and gather support from regional and nonregional members before the Thursday, May 28, election. They will also have a chance to listen in and gather views on the various issues the bank and its member states are faced with, including on health, gender equality and climate financing, which are emerging to be the biggest topics at the weeklong event.
Other topics on the agenda include the bank’s work on peace and state building, fragility (for example in South Sudan, its newest member), engagement with civil society organizations, as well as discussions on how to finance the continent’s huge infrastructure needs.
The Ebola crisis — 2014’s biggest emergency — happened within Africa’s borders. So it comes as no surprise that addressing member states’ gaps in health care is big on the agenda.
See more stories on electing AfDB’s next president:
The bank will explore innovative approaches to building African countries’ resilience to epidemics, discuss the importance of water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructure in this context, as well as the different roles government leaders, civil society actors, the private sector, communities and other development partners can play in the post-Ebola recovery and reconstruction period, and in preparation for future pandemics.
The annual event will also see the launch of a joint World Bank-AfDB Joint Post-Ebola Recovery Program for the core member states of the Mano River Union, which are also the countries most affected by Ebola. Both institutions have raised significant resources for the Ebola outbreak and for the recovery phase of the affected countries. The World Bank has set up a trust fund, while AfDB recently announced $300 million in support of the affected countries’ national recovery programs.
Last year marked a milestone in AfDB’s gender work: the adoption of a gender strategy, which now guides the work of the bank not only externally, but also internally — for instance making sure the bank has an equitable mix of employees, including in management positions, and that shortlisted candidates include women as well.
Next week, at the annual meetings, this will be followed by the launch of a gender equality index, which will look into gender disparities in African countries. The report is expected to rank member states according to their gender equality performance.
Female African finance ministers, led by Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, will also be meeting to discuss ways on how to mobilize funds for gender, and make funding more effective to produce results.
Further, the last day of the annual meetings will feature a session discussing strategies for women’s technological participation.
Two high-level events are set to take place at the annual meetings to tackle the issue of climate change — the implications for African countries of the proposed new climate change agreement currently under negotiations, and ways to boost investments or ways to finance the continent’s climate mitigation and adaptation needs.
The events will also tackle the question on how to boost Africa’s access to currently available international climate finance mechanisms, like the Green Climate Fund.
Africa requires an estimated investment of up $18 billion a year for climate change adaptation efforts, according to the bank, which argued that official development assistance and other development financial flows wouldn’t be enough to cover this need, including the resources necessary to finance the next set of development goals.
Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex senior reporter based in Manila. Since 2011, she has covered a wide range of development and humanitarian aid issues, from leadership and policy changes at DfID to the logistical and security impediments faced by international and local aid responders in disaster-prone and conflict-affected countries in Africa and Asia. Her interests include global health and the analysis of aid challenges and trends in sub-Saharan Africa.
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