Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, January 21, 2015 – “Africa’s abundance of natural resources (forestry, agriculture, minerals, oil and gas), offer a major opportunity to close the development gap,” said African Development Bank’s Vice-President Aly Abou-Sabaa at the High Level Conference on Transparency and Sustainable Development held in Nouakchott from January 19-20, 2015.
“Addressing issues of governance, fighting corruption and promoting greater transparency and accountability across both public and private sectors is key to unlocking the full potential of the continent and ensuring the sustainability of its development,” he added.
A recent research by the African Development Bank shows that countries which implemented governance reforms were performing better than non-reforming countries. According to the African Development Effectiveness Review on Governance, published in 2012, reformers benefitted from an additional 2 percentage points of growth in comparison to non-reformers between the decades 1990-2000 and 2000-2008.
However, while some progress has been achieved towards promoting good governance, there remains a lot of work to be done. “Progress has been uneven and insufficient,” Abou-Sabaa said.
Speaking at the opening of the conference, Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz called for increased cooperation between African countries as well as a multidimensional approach and joint action between government departments, civil society and the private sector in order to effectively fight mismanagement and lack of transparency.
The African Development Bank is playing is playing a key role in that regard. Its Strategy for 2013-2022, is articulated around economic transformation, with governance and accountability as a key priority. On top of its Governance Action Plan launched in 2014, the AfDB is currently updating its anti-money laundering and terrorist financing strategy to incorporate illicit financial flows to strengthen its support for African countries in these areas.
In order to step up its support to African countries in good governance of natural resources, the AfDB has recently set up the African Natural Resources Center. The aim is to provide dedicated advice, technical assistance and advocacy to African countries to strengthen the institutions managing natural resources, to step up civil society capacity, and increase advocacy efforts in international fora.
According to a study prepared jointly by the Bank and Global Financial Integrity in 2013, between 2000-2009, the continent lost some USD 30.4 billion per annum, an amount mirroring what the continent receives in aid and foreign direct investment.
The High Level Conference on Transparency and Sustainable Development, cosponsored by the AfDB, was called by Mauritanian President and Chairperson of the African Union Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz under the theme “Successful practices to fight corruption and improve transparency, integrity and accountability throughout the African Union”.
Some 300 hundred participants took part in the conference, including ministers, representatives of regional economic communities and development partners, eminent persons from African Union member states, civil society organizations, public and private sector as well as leading international experts.