Reforms making headways as ADB hits another lending record in 2015

Asian Development Bank President Takehiko Nakao inspects agricultural produce in Panabo, Davao del Norte, Philippines. The bank looks set to maintain its status as the Asia-Pacific region's premier multilateral development institution as it posts record lending and operations in 2015. Photo by: ADB / CC BY-NC-ND

The Asian Development Bank posted a record 2015 in lending and financing, solidifying its status as the Asia-Pacific region's most influential development institution.

Overall operations and approved lending of the bank grew 18.5 percent in the last 12 months to $27.17 million in net development assistance, up from $22.93 billion in 2014. The rise follows growing demands for infrastructure and development financing in the region, according to the bank’s latest annual report, released ahead of the annual meeting in Frankfurt, Germany.

“Our record performance in 2015 reflects a growing demand from the Asia and Pacific region for ADB’s development assistance,” Takehiko Nakao, president of the Manila-based institution, said in the annual report. “Poverty persists despite the region’s impressive growth, and infrastructure and other development needs are monumental.”

Other financial highlights of the bank’s annual report include a 29 percent growth in lending approvals from its Ordinary Capital Resources, one of the ADB’s main financial instruments for lending, to $13.4 billion, up from last year’s $10.4 billion. Co-financing, last year’s main operations booster, also posted a 16.4 percent growth to $10.7 billion from 2014’s $9.2 billion. The bank has also committed to double its annual climate financing to $6 billion by 2020.

Lending from the Asian Development Fund, a trust fund dedicated to loans and grants for the poorest countries in the region, decreased by 7.6 percent to $2.9 billion last year from 2014’s $3.1 billion (the 2013 and 2014 year-on-year decrease was 24.6 percent). This steady decline is consistent with the bank’s projection of a more middle-income Asia-Pacific, given the region’s continuous growth.

This shift is also the backbone of one of Nakao’s most landmark reforms at the bank to date: merging the OCR and ADF to increase ADB’s lending capacity. The merger is expected to increase the bank’s financing coffers to $20 billion by 2020 and is scheduled to take effect early next year. The move is one of the key drivers of growth in the bank’s lending operations, Indu Bhushan, director general of ADB’s strategy and policy department, told Devex in an interview in January.

Other reforms that have contributed to the bank’s growth in operations include the establishment of a public-private partnership office, procurement reforms, and empowerment of field offices, the report says. These crucial operational improvements come as the bank celebrates its 50-year anniversary in an increasingly competitive donor environment in the region.

Below we look at how the ADB disbursed development financing per region in 2015.

Southeast Asia

Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam

ADB assistance to Southeast Asia amounted to $3.47 billion in 2015. Technical assistance amounted to $53.38 million, while official cofinancing for loans and grants reached around $2.2 billion in the last 12 months.

The bulk of the ADB’s assistance went to energy projects, with 37 percent, followed by finance with 23 percent, and water and other urban infrastructure and services each representing a 20 percent share.

South Asia

Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka

Total ADB investments in South Asia amounted to $3.8 billion in 2015, while grants for technical assistance amounted to $37.26 million. Cofinancing, on the other hand, amounted to $2.14 billion as the bank looked to strengthen its ties in the sub-region.

Transport received the largest share in the bank’s assistance in the sub-region with a 24 percent share, followed by energy at 23 percent, finance at 15 percent, education at 13 percent, and 8 percent each for urban services; agriculture, natural resources and rural development; and health.

Central and West Asia

Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

ADB assistance to Central and West Asia — considered the bridge between Europe and Asia — amounted to $5.42 billion in 2015. The bank approved $3.23 billion in new loans and grants last year, supported by $1.19 billion in co-financing programs.

The share of energy projects in the total decreased to 34 percent, down from 57 percent in 2014. Transportation and public sector management each accounted for 27 perecent of funding, with water and other urban infrastructure and services taking 6 percent, and finance and agriculture, natural resources and urban development each taking 1 percent.

East Asia

China, Mongolia

ADB assistance to East Asia decreased by almost a third to $2 billion last year from $3 billion in 2014. The bank also approved $38.8 million for 50 technical assistance projects on top of $254 million in cofinancing.

The bulk of the assistance went to agriculture, natural resources and rural development as well as energy, with 30 percent and 26 percent, respectively. This is followed by water and other urban infrastructure and services at 15 percent, transport at 10 percent, education at 7 percent, public sector management at 7 percent, finance at 3 percent, and industry and trade at 1 percent.


Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, East Timor, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu

Total ADB development financing to the Pacific amounted to about $178 million in 2015. This covered 18 lending and grant projects, including assistance from the Asia Pacific Disaster Response Fund. Cofinancing amounted to $271.1 million and complemented by $19.42 in technical assistance for 21 projects.

Transport represented the largest share of ADB assistance in the region with 64 percent, followed by information and communication technology at 20 percent, public sector management at 7 percent, and energy at 5 percent.

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About the author

  • Lean Alfred Santos

    Lean Alfred Santos is a former Devex development reporter focusing on the development community in Asia-Pacific, including major players such as the Asian Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. He previously covered Philippine and international business and economic news, sports and politics.