"We count, we are going to count more." (interview with African Development Bank President Babacar Ndiaye) (Interview)

Author:Versi, Anver

African Business: What is the role of the African Development Bank?

Dr Ndiaye: Since the Bretton Woods Agreement 50 years ago, the role of multi-lateral global institutions has become more pronounced and more necessary in the management of the world economy.

The ADB is an instrument by which Africans can support their development efforts. The Bank, with the OAU, helps to finance the development needs of African nations. If conditions required the setting up of the ADB 30 years ago when we had only 23 members, the present conditions, with the whole of Africa politically liberated, make our continued presence even more justified.

AB: How would you describe the political and economic situation of Africa today?

Dr Ndiaye: Africa is undergoing two types of crisis: one is an economic crisis and the other is a new political crisis. The political crisis today, for most nations, is that of evolving modern systems of governance.

Our role as a development bank is to bring specific expertise in the domain we have control over, i.e. the economic domain, and also to get involved in other domains which we don't control but which affect the social fabric of our societies. Hence we involve ourselves in the political and governance domains as well.

AB: In. the economic domain, what can you do that cannot be done by the World Bank?

Dr Ndiaye: We concentrate on those areas where a development initiative cannot be taken by other donor institutions. For example, the development of inter-African trade. The Abuja Treaty on the formation of an African Economic Community needs intelligent but concrete implementation. The integration of African economies and the development of regional institutions must and do get priority from financial organisations like ours because, as Africans, we feel the problems in our bones.

We know, better than others, just where the shoe pinches. Of course we do not have a monopoly on problem diagnosis but what we do diagnose we have an inbuilt commitment towards solving.

The bottom line really is not so much the transfer of financial resources as the initiation of ideas to make change. We help translate ideas into development.

Let me summerise our agenda for you: it is to eliminate poverty; invest in human capacity; promote private enterprise; develop the capacity of our women and work towards the economic integration of Africa. I believe other institutions should supplement our actions because these are home grown and truely reflect the...

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