The African Development Bank played a critical role in supporting millions of people across the continent, affected by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.
This is according to its latest Annual Development Effectiveness Review released on Tuesday.
The pandemic caused fiscal deficits to double and indebtedness to rise sharply, reducing the capacity of African countries to invest in economic recovery.
The African Development Bank responded swiftly with a Covid-19 Response Facility that provided $3.6 billion in emergency budget support. The funding went into key areas such as health, social protection, and economic assistance, benefitting 12.3 million vulnerable households across 31 countries.
For instance, in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Senegal the Bank helped to subsidise water and electricity bills for vulnerable households.
In Sierra Leone, it supported the training and protection of 11,000 frontline health workers. With the Bank’s support, Ethiopia’s daily Covid-19 testing capacity quadrupled. And in Morocco, the Bank helped the country upgrade health infrastructure, allowing for efficient patient care.
The Annual Development Effectiveness Report notes that small and micro-enterprises supported by the Bank generated revenues of $2 billion, helping them weather the pandemic in 2020. Through its Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) program, the Bank’s support for food security and agricultural development reached 11 million farmers in 28 countries and avoided $814 million in food imports.
While many African countries are still grappling with the pandemic, the Bank Group President Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina is optimistic about Africa’s speedy return to growth and prosperity. “The African Development Bank’s resolve to support the continent to realize its full potential is stronger than ever, and we look forward to working hand in hand with African countries to help them realize their goals.”
Projects funded by the Bank in 2020 connected 260,000 people to electricity supply. Around 16.4 million people benefited from improvements in agriculture. About 9.2 million people gained access to better transport services, and 8.3 million people benefited from new or improved water and sanitation.
“This year’s edition takes place against the backdrop of an unprecedented global pandemic and economic crisis. And yet, despite all these challenges, the Bank has made some remarkable achievements in 2020, both at an operational and at a corporate level.”, said African Development Bank Senior Vice President Bajabulile “Swazi'' Tshabalala. As a development agency, we are proud of our achievements and we must continue to enhance the quality of our operations and increase the development impact of our work.
Improved performance, global value chains that hold promise
The Annual Development Effectiveness Report found that the African Development Bank continued to improve its efficiency and performance, increased income and reduced administrative expenses. For another year running, the Bank retained its AAA credit rating.
As African countries begin to build back boldly from the pandemic, the Bank’s priority in the coming year will be to help countries identify the right policy measures and investments to achieve inclusive and sustainable economic growth.
The report also analyses various aspects of African economies and proposes critical reforms to improve economic gains. For example, for Africa to participate in global value chains, the report recommends more openness to foreign direct investment, and greater trade liberalization to lower tariffs on inputs.
“It is also important for countries to identify the products that they are best equipped to integrate into global value chains,” the report notes. It adds that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) gives African countries a structure for developing effective value chains both regionally and globally.
The report highlights pharmaceuticals as one sector with new opportunities, noting that Africa imports majority of pharmaceutical products.
Published annually for the past 11 years, the Annual Development Effectiveness Report analyzes the Bank’s contribution to Africa’s development. It monitors the progress of the Bank’s Results Assessment System and tracks the contribution of its activities to the Bank’s High 5 strategic priority areas: Light Up and Power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialize Africa, Integrate Africa, and Improve the Quality of Life for the People of Africa.
The report also tracks the impact of the Bank’s cross-cutting goals and long-term objectives of fostering sustainable development and green growth.