AfDB: Aid transparency is 'only way' to conduct development business

African Development Bank President Donald Kaberuka at the Aid for Trade Global Review in 2009. The bank became the first multilender to publish its data through the International Aid Transparency Initiative. Photo by: Jay Louvion / World Trade Organization / CC BY-ND

The African Development Bank last week became the first multilateral lender to publish its data through the International Aid Transparency Initiative.

After disclosing on July 1 data on both its public and private sector activities as well as providing precise geocoded information, AfDB joined the ranks of over 160 development organizations that seek to improve transparency on aid spending to make more effective in fighting poverty with IATI.

The decision has significant human and financial resource implications, but the bank fully believes both are justified because this “is the only way for us to conduct our development business,” said Victoria Chisala, AfDB division manager for quality assurance and results.

“Investment in better information is investment in better development, as transparent information on aid is fundamental for democratic ownership and accountability,” Chisala told Devex from the bank’s headquarters in Tunisia. “It enables citizens and their representatives to monitor the allocation of resources for development and … keep their governments and partners accountable.”

But how can this be achieved in a continent so notorious for corruption? Chisala noted that instruments such as the disclosure and access to information policy — effective since February — will help AfDB prove its commitment to transparency in carrying out its projects.

This is line, she said, with the bank’s agenda for “empowering people on the ground with the information they need to follow development spending, driving results and scrutinizing and making better decisions in their dealings with the bank.”

As for feedback received so far from implementing partners on the transparency initiative, Chisala commented that it has been been positive, “but numerous challenges remain, particularly in strengthening the institution’s systems and tools to make transparency part of the institution’s way of doing business.” Reforms are needed, and that’s why she explained AfDB is reviewing its corporate results measurement framework to align it with the core objectives of the bank’s 2013-2022 strategy for inclusive and green growth.

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