Adesina’s Re-election Tops Agenda, As AfDB Begins 2020 Annual Meetings Wednesday

The African Development Bank (AfDB), will between Wednesday and Friday, August 26 and 27, begin the delayed 55th meeting of its board and 46th annual meetings of the African Development Fund, its concessional arm. The meetings will however hold virtually for the first time in its history, to comply with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic-related social-distancing guidelines.

Participants, comprising mainly its governors who are typically Finance and Economy Ministers, or Central Bank Governors of the 54 African regional member countries and 27 non-regional member countries, will participate in the Governors’ Dialogue, thinking through the theme: “Building Africa back better after the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Apart from this, according to a statement by the group, another major highlight of the meetings is the re-election of Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina on August 27 as the eighth president of the bank.

Adesina, the first Nigerian to hold the position, was first elected for a five-year term on May 28, 2015, by the bank’s Board of Governors during that year’s Annual Meetings held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.  

Adesina’s election was postponed from May the height of a lingering probe into allegations of misdeeds during his current tenure by a whistleblower. He was however cleared of any misdeed by both the internal and independent probe panel.

He is the lone candidate for presidency of the bank for a second and final five-year term, and enjoys the backing of his home country Nigeria and majority of most shareholders.

“Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the continent’s shores in early March, over 1,000,000 confirmed cases of the virus have been recorded in Africa. The pandemic has hit the region’s economies hard in the wake of falling commodity prices and containment measures by governments that have led to country lockdowns,” the statement added.

For several months, the Bank has been extending support to regional member countries in cushioning their economies, health systems, and citizens’ livelihoods from parallel health and economic impacts from COVID-19.

At the meetings, governors are expected to receive updates on a range of developments within the bank since the previous Annual Meetings held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea in June 2019. They include its seventh General Capital increase, which the Board of Governors approved in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire on October 31, 2019, increasing its capital base by a historic $115bn or 123.66% from $93bn, to $208bn.

In December 2019, African Development Fund Donors pledged $7.6 billion, the 15th such replenishment, to help the continent’s poorest countries.   

In April 2020, for example, AfDB established an up to $10bn COVID-19 Response Facility to extend flexible support to African sovereign and non-sovereign operations, of which $2.29bn in CRF funding had been approved for ADB member countries as of August 20.

A further $1.186bn has been disbursed to ADF member countries, with approvals ongoing.

In March, the bank also raised a record $3bn with a COVID-19 social bond floated on the London Stock Exchange.  

The institution reached some major milestones during the trying times of lockdown with both Fitch and Standard & Poor credit rating agencies reaffirming its AAA rating with a stable outlook.