“Pay Attention To MRU Basis Development”…Konneh Urges AfDB

Finance Minister Amara Konneh pursues the African Development Bank to focus more resources on regional projects under the Mano River Union Initiative during his meeting with the Bank’s President Dr. Donald Kaberuka in Marrakech, Morocco recently.According to a dispatch from the meeting, Minister Konneh who is chair of the regional constituency met with Dr. Kaberuka on behalf of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and stressed the need for the Bank to direct resources towards these regional projects, worth $5 billion dollars that will build roads and an electricity grid connecting Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Minister Konneh said in Liberia the AfDB funds will pay for constructing a bridge over the Cavalla River, paving the Ganta to Fish Town highway and building of a reservoir on the St Paul River. The Liberian Treasury Chief, who also chairs the IMF Africa Group 1 constituency pushed for greater representation for African countries in the Fund’s decision making process.

In response, President Kaberuka reiterated that the quality of growth and its sustainability are the two main issues confronting Africa today. He expressed his full support to finding resources for development in the MRU basin. Dr. Kaberuka assured the Liberian Finance Minister that the Mano River Union is one of his top priorities.

Minister Konneh is attending the 48th Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank (AfDB) which opened on May 27 in Marrakech, Morocco, focusing on the need for Africa to turn economic growth into truly shared and sustainable economic transformation in the next half century.

The Annual Meetings are being held at a crucial time. For Kaberuka, “Africa is rising, and it needs a push. The rest of the world is languishing, and it too needs a push. Africa needs the world, and the world needs Africa. Each can give the other a push.”

The AfDB President furthered that Africa’s challenge is to bring its extraordinary progress of the last decade to scale; a critical lack of infrastructure – transport, energy, water, telecommunications – which is the basis for all growth; a lack of regional economic integration between what are still fragmented national markets; and the pockets of serious fragility that still persist across the continent.

He noted that the Bank’s two main financial challenges are: “First, we need our non-African members’ full support in making a big injection into the Africa Development Fund – Africa’s fund, for Africa’s future. The ADF gives concessional loans and grants to our most vulnerable members, whose need is the greatest. Its track record is superb.”

He said with a serious push now, the Bank can bring lasting change to fragile states as it has done in Liberia and Sierra Leone. “We need our African members’ support in a new initiative which we believe is a visionary solution to bring about the vision of transformation, and a revolutionary response to failings in finding, facilitating and funding infrastructure projects.”

The Marrakesh meetings will also involve the AfDB Board of Governors decision on the Bank’s return to its original headquarters in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.