By Momodou Jarju
Equatorial Guinea will host the 54th Meeting of the Boards of Governors of the African Development Bank and the 45th Annual Meeting of the African Development Fund slated for 11th to 14th June, 2019 in the country’s capital city, Malabo.
The country is where the former Gambia president Yahya Jammeh fled in exile in January 19, 2017, after he lost the December 1, 2016 presidential election, to the coalition standard-bearer and current president Adama Barrow.
The Annual Meetings are the Bank’s largest event that provides a unique forum for representatives of governments, businesses, civil society, think tanks, academia and the media worldwide, to dialogue on key issues concerning Africa’s development.
About 3000 participants are expected to grace the meeting. This will include finance ministers, central bank governors, policy makers, civil society organizations, leaders of international organizations and captains of industry from the Bank Group’s 80 Member States.
This year’s Annual Meetings focuses on ‘Regional Integration for Africa’s Economic Prosperity’, falling under one of the Bank’s five priority areas known as the ‘High 5s’ (Light up and power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialize Africa, Integrate Africa and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa).
This year’s calendar of events includes a High-Level Presidential Dialogue on “Boosting Africa’s Economic Integration”. There will also be a special presentation of the Bank’s flagship African Economic Outlook publication for 2019, released in January.
Africa’s population is at one billion people and its combined GDP is over USD 3400 billion. This is believed could create huge opportunities for its producers. The Bank strongly believes that building links among the countries of Africa is fundamental to the continent’s economic transformation.
To realize this potential, African governments and regional economic communities need to cooperate to facilitate the cross-border transfer of goods, services, people, money, energy and knowledge. According to the Bank’s Visa Openness Index, only 25% of African countries do not require a visa for Africans to travel (a rise from 22% in 2017 and 20% in 2016), while 51% of African countries continue to impose visas on African nationals (down from 54% in 2017 and 55% in 2016).
In respond to their readiness to host the flagship event, Mr. Bernardo Abaga Ndong, general coordinator of the National Technical Committee in charge of the Annual Meetings was quoted as saying: “The Government and people of Equatorial Guinea are ready and look forward to hosting the African Development Bank’s flagship event in 2019.”
According to the AfDB website, an aide-memoire on the country’s preparedness to host the event was signed on 27th February 2019. The signing took place on the sidelines of regional consultative meetings between the Bank and its African shareholders, held in Abidjan from 25th February to 1st March, 2019, and attended by Equatorial Guinea’s finance minister Lucas Abaga Nchama.
“We are determined to make the Annual Meetings in our country a most resounding success that will definitely bolster our national prestige, because an event with over 3,000 participants is not a small affair,” Ndong emphasised.