Looking back at 2019: Key moments

Dec 23 2019 - The year 2019 was a year of exciting firsts for the African Development Bank Group. The year was marked by innovation and several new milestones that brought us closer to the “Africa we want.”

The Bank pushed its High 5 strategy forward in tandem with the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

We saw continuing progress in Africa’s structural transformation, due in large part to projects financed and supported by the African Development Bank. An increase in the Bank’s capital, completed at the end of October, demonstrated shareholders’ high level of confidence in the institution.

The second Africa Investment Forum, held in November in Johannesburg, attests to continuing investor interest in African infrastructure and development projects.

Looking back at 2019’s key moments:



On 17 January, the African Development Bank released its 2019 African Economic Outlook report. The theme: ‘Regional Integration for Africa’s Economic Prosperity’ provided short- and medium-term projections on critical socio-economic issues such as employment, and highlighted challenges encountered, and progress made.

Launch of the AEO :



On 10 and 11 February in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Bank President Akinwumi Adesina and Lesotho’s King Letsie III co-chaired the official launch of the ‘African Leaders for Nutrition’ scorecard. The continental Nutrition Accountability Scorecard reinforces commitments by African governments to end malnutrition and promote healthy children. The event took place as part of the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union.

Also, the Bank held its second annual consultative meetings with Governors of the Bank to exchange views and ideas on accelerated engagement in the region. During consultations, the Governors called for a greater focus on women to close Africa’s gender gap, climate change, and development in fragile states.

ALN addis – African Leaders for Nutrition :



The Bank hosted the third African Forum for Resilience at its headquarters in Abidjan, under the theme ‘Fragility, Migration, and Resilience.’ 300 participants including heads of government, international organizations, leaders of civil society, academics, and the business community, discussed several challenges resulting from migration: security, youth unemployment, gender issues, and the effects of climate change.

Forum for resilience :



The Ivoirian minister for tourism, Siandou Fofana, in conjunction with the Bank, presented a government strategy, entitled ‘Sublime Côte d’Ivoire.’ The country’s stated objective is to become the continent’s fifth-leading tourism destination.

Delegations from the Congo, DRC, Chad, and the Central African Republic also met with the Bank to prepare the lenders roundtable. The goal was to mobilize $2.2 billion to finance two comprehensive projects in central Africa’s transport sector.



The Portuguese minister of foreign affairs, Augusto Santos Silva, led a high-level delegation to the African Development Bank headquarters and met with Senior Vice President Charles Boamah. A few days later, the president of Burkina Faso, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, received his mission roadmap as a champion of the African Leaders for Nutrition.



The Bank’s Annual Meetings returned to the continent after being held in Ahmedabad, India in 2017 and in Busan, South Korea in 2018. The highly successful and productive meetings took place in Malabo, capital of Equatorial Guinea, and brought together some 3,000 participants. The theme was strengthening regional integration in Africa.

Best of video :



The agreement to establish the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which took effect at the end of May, began its operational phase. It opens the way for the most significant common market created in recent history. A year earlier, 49 African countries signed the agreement in Kigali, Rwanda, the last step in a vast economic project to integrate 55 African countries and create a common market with a combined GDP of $2.5 trillion.



Eleven new directors joined the Bank’s Board of Directors.

African heads of states and key business leaders from around the world attended TICAD 7 in Yokohama, Japan, under the theme ‘Advancing Africa’s Development through People, Technology and Innovation.’ The Japan-Africa summit provides an opportunity to explore investment opportunities and learn from Japan’s technological, industrial, economic, and development experiences.  TICAD is held every three years alternately in Japan and Africa since 2016.

African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina called on Japanese companies to be “bolder” about making investments in Africa.

In Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron and the G7 heads of state provided $251 million in loan support to the Bank’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) initiative for women entrepreneurs in Africa.

Biarritz AFAWA :



The Bank’s president presented the transformational ‘Desert to Power’ initiative to heads of state at the G5 Sahel Summit in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The initiative’s goal is to produce 10GW of solar energy to bring 250 million people out of energy-deprived darkness.

Also, in September, the general secretaries of international financial institutions met for the first time in Africa, at the Bank’s headquarters in Abidjan.

At the UN General Assembly in New York, the African Development Bank and the United Nations held a first-of-its-kind meeting between both institutions to discuss the accelerated and collaborative delivery of the SDGs and the Bank’s High 5 development goals. Seven African presidents attended the meeting.

G5 Desert to power sahel picture :



During an extraordinary meeting of shareholders on 31 October in Abidjan, the Bank’s governors, representing shareholders from 80 countries, approved a historic capital increase of $115 billion. The institution’s capital more than doubled to $208 billion, which solidified the Bank’s leadership in financing development in Africa. The increase, the largest since the Bank’s creation in 1964, provided clear evidence of shareholders’ trust. Aside from significant opportunities to do more for Africa, the increase in capital will allow the Bank to maintain its AAA rating, with a stable outlook, from the top rating agencies.

GCC picture:



Once again, Johannesburg hosted the Africa Investment Forum.

The Forum ended on a high note with 56 boardroom deals valued at $67.6 billion tabled – a 44% increase from last year. Of these, fifty-two deals worth $40.1 billion secured investor interest.

The Africa Investment Forum is championed by the Bank in partnership with Africa50, Afrexim Bank, the Trade Development Bank, the Development Bank of Southern Africa, the Islamic Development Bank, the Africa Finance Corporation, and the European Investment Bank.

Abidjan welcomed the third Conference on Land Policy in Africa, co-sponsored by the Bank.

Also, the Bank co-hosted delegations from around the world for the 1st Global Gender Summit held on the African continent, in Kigali, Rwanda. The gathering, attended by the presidents of Ethiopia – Sahle-Work Zewde, and Rwanda, Paul Kagame – moved the needle forward on gender equality and women’s empowerment in Africa and around the world.

Several agreements were signed as part of the Bank’s AFAWA initiative to facilitate project financing for women entrepreneurs in Africa.

On 5 November, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister of Singapore, was hosted at the Bank’s headquarters as the guest speaker at the third Kofi Annan Eminent Speakers Series.

AIF best of video:
Gender family picture:



Three key events closed out the year. First, the African Economic Conference held in Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt, where the future of African youth was the focus of discussions. The same week, Johannesburg hosted the fifteenth replenishment of the African Development Fund (ADF-15), during which donors announced $7.6 billion in financing for low-income African countries.

The United Nations World Climate Change Conference (COP25), held in Madrid from 2 to 14 December, was attended by a Bank delegation led by Anthony Nyong, Director for Climate Change and Green Growth. Nyong was nominated earlier this year as one of the ‘100 Most Influential People in Climate Policy 2019 by Apolitical, a peer-to-peer learning platform for governments.

African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina received the All Africa Business Leaders 2019 African of the Year award in recognition of his bold and innovative leadership in helping shape the development of Africa’s economies. The AABLA award recognizes remarkable leadership and salutes game changers of business on the continent.

All in all, it has been a fast-paced and productive year for the African Development Bank Group.

Our message as we move into 2020, remains loud and clear: The African Development Bank will continue to stand alongside regional member countries to accelerate sustainable development, economic growth, and social progress, and … to make a transformational difference.

AEC best of video:
ADF picture:
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