AfDB president snubs Zim

HARARE - African Development Bank (AfDB) president Akinwumi Adesina snubbed Zimbabwe on his recent working visit to Southern Africa.

The Nigerian, who was elected to the regional financial institution in May last year ahead of Zimbabwe’s Thomas Sakala, visited Malawi and Mozambique last week and did not pass through Zimbabwe despite the country initially having been part of his itinerary.

“After former AfDB Zimbabwe representative Mateus Magala left to go and head Mozambique’s energy development utility, the bank is yet to appoint a country representative. The president thought it would be prudent to have this issue dealt with first before he can visit,” an insider said.

Zimbabwe enjoys a healthy relationship with AfDB after the Ivory Coast-headquartered bank supported the southern African country with financial assistance when other multilateral donors withdrew their lending over disagreements with President Robert Mugabe’s controversial policies.

In 2012, AfDB hosted a debt resolution forum in Tunis, Tunisia for Zimbabwe, where the country’s creditors met to map a strategy.

The regional development bank has also agreed to lend Zimbabwe $1,8 billion aimed at clearing the country’s debt with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. 

Meanwhile, Adesina met with Mozambique president Filipe Nyusi, the ministers of Economy and Finance, Energy and Mineral Resources, Agriculture and Food Security, Land, Environment and Rural Development; as well as the governor of the Bank of Mozambique, and the chairman of the EDM (electricity utility company).

“At these meetings Adesina reviewed AfDB’s portfolio of projects and programmes in the country as the visit primarily aimed to discuss possible areas of cooperation in key sectors such as energy and food security,” the bank said in a statement. Since the beginning of its operations in Mozambique in 1977, the AfDB has contributed approximately $2 billion for 95 operations in the country.

The regional lender’s website says that of this amount just over half of these funds have been allocated to the transport and agriculture sectors.

“The current portfolio of the AfDB in Mozambique consists of 19 projects totalling more than $600 million,” the AfDB said.

In Malawi, Adesina pledged to continue supporting Malawi’s efforts to diversify its economy, achieve sustainable growth and reduce poverty.

Leading a team of senior AfDB staff, he was received by Malawi president Arthur Mutharika.

Adesina also announced AfDB’s drought response package of $35 million for Malawi, of which $1 million will be put towards immediate assistance and $7 million for fast response, with the remaining amount for projects to deal with food insecurity.

“The President encouraged the Malawi government to sustain the reform effort, particularly in fiscal policy and public financial management to restore macroeconomic stability and instil private-sector confidence.

“He reaffirmed the Bank’s commitment to assist Malawi to build resilience and achieve sustainable development through support for irrigation and other key national and regional infrastructure developments in energy and transport,” an AfDB statement said.

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