Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire – President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has lauded the African Development Fund (ADF) for proving to be an effective, credible and relevant vehicle in supporting African aspirations towards building resilient communities and societies and changing the lives of people.
According to a dispatch, President Sirleaf made the commendation when addressed the ADF-14 Negotiations, aimed sharing the African Development Bank through the African Development Fund’s important developmental role it continues to play on the continent, and of course including Liberia, and how crucial it is for the Fund to sustain its valuable assistance to Africa.
It can be recalled that during in the ADF-13 Replenishment Negotiations in Tunis, President, on behalf of the majority of the African nations, that the support from the ADF is dear to the hearts of Member States.
President Sirleaf said the ADF 14 negotiations are taking place at a critical juncture, with numerous challenges facing Africa and the world economies – noting that the economic slowdown in emerging markets has adversely affected the international prices of principal commodity exports and resultantly the macroeconomic and financial conditions as most African countries continue to rely on these primary commodities, despite ongoing structural change.
The Liberian leader said that ADF-14 cycle also coincides with the adoption by the UN General Assembly of seventeen measurable Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are more ambitious than the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). “In addition to the SDGs, we have also committed ourselves to the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development, the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the COP 21 Agreement on Climate Change”, she pointed. She observed that the success of the SDGs agenda will be tested as a significant amount of additional resources will be required to effectively and efficiently support transformative programs.
Said President Sirleaf: “In our region, the effects of climate change are increasingly manifest – higher temperature, variable rainfall, and more frequent droughts and storms. As these changes interact with high levels of vulnerability and low adaptation capacities, our national and regional development plans will be significantly challenged. We must also build the capacity to respond to increasing regional insecurity in the form of ongoing civil conflicts, secessionist movements, organized crimes and the rise of extremists groups”.
The Liberia Chief Executive told her audience that the challenges are indeed awesome, but hope and opportunities are matched by strong domestic action and global commitments to ensure sustainable development.
She said it was worth-noting that the African Development Fund, through the Bank Group has developed a strong and effective partnership with Liberia, reactivating a long standing relationship as soon as our conflict ended in 2003.
“In a post-conflict and extreme fragile situation, the Bank coordinated with other development partners to support the reengagement of Liberia with the international financial community that led to debt arrears clearance at the granting of HIPC debt relief of US$4.6 billion in 2010, including US$237 million form the AfDB itself” she indicated.
President Sirleaf furthered – “Over the next several years, the Bank Group applied appropriate instruments to address the many challenges that had emerged as a result of the prolonged conflict. In this context, the Fragile State Facility, renamed Transition Support Facility in 2014, has been a particularly effective instrument in building resilience, rehabilitating and reconstructing infrastructure, supporting economic diversification, strengthening governance and financial management, and promoting regional cooperation and integration. Targeted budget support programs and technical advice provided towards the support of the development of human resource which are critical in fragile situations.
Amid severe revenue shortfall, President Sirleaf said: “ In response, the Bank more than doubled its budget support resources to over $56 million and provided funding for the Ebola Trust Fund. It supported other projects that provided over $18 million in direct support to Liberia, and also prepared regional programs. Bank support assisted the Government to meet unplanned outlays for health care workers, funded efforts to halt the epidemic, and then financed the restoration of essential basic services”.
Towards a key lesson from this partnership is that the Bank Group – President Sirleaf added that the ADF has been a relevant, credible and responsive partner. The ADF – she said has played a key role in sustaining peace and development not only in Liberia but also across the continent. She however informed that the road to resilience and sustainable development is a long and bumpy journey – adding major challenges still lie ahead and we must effectively confront them together.
She highlighted the significance of the – Transition Support Facility (TSF), which has played a key role in supporting fragile states transition towards stability and building resilience. “Continued assistance is essential to consolidate the gains achieved thus far, and to reduce the risk of instability that could spill across-borders. The Bank has demonstrated strong understanding of the context of fragility, and has adapted its approach addressing these complex issues at the source. We must improve the livelihoods of Africans at home and create progress, so that there are fewer migrants and refugees for global harmony and prosperity” she pointed.
Countries, she noted, must continually strengthen the ability to respond to shock and protect the development gains achieved. In Liberia, we have developed the response capability to counter another possible Ebola outbreak, but we know that other unexpected shocks, including fallout macroeconomic are likely to occur. “This requires us, as in the case of others, to address the underlying causes of fragility and embark on rebuilding resilience, which could allow each country to transition toward sustainable, inclusive economic development, thereby creating gainful productive employment opportunities, and improve the lives of people”.
Touching on Transforming and diversifying African economies, President Sirleaf said it is critical for building resilience and ensuring sustainable development. She cautioned that a growth model based on un-processed commodity exports is no longer sustainable, adding the that we need to enhance our business environments, attract foreign direct investment (FDI) investment in non-extractive sectors, increase productivity in agriculture, and enhance value-chains in key productive sectors”.
She praised the AfDB for quickly joining Liberia in its effort, supporting and working closely with the Ministry of Agriculture to adapt agriculture programs that make agriculture an attractive and progressive business.
President Sirleaf said infrastructure gaps remain huge despite progress made and financing needs far exceed the capacity of countries, particularly those in fragile situations. “Infrastructure, particularly roads, bridges and energy, are essential to transform Liberia’s economy which, will continue to have a very large road deficit; and are very far from having paved roads connecting all county capitals”. She paid tribute to the AfDB for the road from Fish Town to Ganta which represents the extension of the segment, which the AfDB supports is about 350km and will still need to be paved.
She then asked ADF Deputies to consider increasing the resource envelope of regional operations, which have multiplier effect that will result from the scaling of comparative advantage operations.
Speaking earlier, Dr. Adesina thanked President Sirleaf for leading the charge for the replenishment of the ADF. He said as a strong voice in Africa, the President’s clarion call to donors will yield maximum results. He promised to continue the bank’s manifold programs throughout Africa to better the lives of Africans.