The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) realised a 15.3 per cent increase in its operations turnover in 2014 despite the challenging global and regional economic environment.

According to AfDB 2014 Annual Report, infrastructure accounted for more than half of the $ 7.6 billion invested in the Regional Member Countries during the year, representing a 15.3 per cent increase over the 2013 funding portfolio.

A compendium of the Bank’s activities in 2014 and its operations programme for 2015 released on Wednesday, May 27 at the AfDB’s Annual Meeting in Abidjan, infrastructure projects in energy, transport, and water and sanitation were accorded priority over the four other operational domains – regional integration, private sector development, skills and technology, and governance and accountability.

The Bank’s other funding approvals for the year were channelled to the finance sector, which accounted for 17.9 per cent of the loans allocated to the continent’s small and medium enterprises in order to ease their financing constraints and promote financial inclusion.

Agriculture, which accounted for 10.8 per cent of the loans and grants, focused on enhancing food security and raising productivity. The social sector received 8.3 per cent of all approvals, with skills development, technological innovation, and improvement of health-care service delivery as key beneficiaries.

The Bank’s efforts to diversify its client base helped extend AfDB public-sector lending to 11 countries, almost double the number in 2013.

The AfDB private-sector window helped leverage some $ 19.5 billion in co-financing, more than double the year’s target of $ 9 billion.

The Bank’s move towards mobilising innovative financing for the development of infrastructure in Africa became a reality following the incorporation of the Africa 50 fund in Morocco with a $ 100 million seed capital in 2014, barely a year after it was established.

The landmark initiative and strategy emphasises the reduction of gender inequalities, by strengthening women’s legal and property rights, promoting women’s economic empowerment, and enhancing knowledge management and capacity building for gender equality were revealing within the period under review.

“The strategy ‘Addressing Fragility and Building Resilience in Africa 2014-2019’ was followed by the upgrading of the relevant unit to a department and the commitment of $ 548.7 million to operations in countries facing fragile situations, including a $ 41.7-million budget support to countries in fragile situations that are also affected by the Ebola epidemic.

It approved $ 221.85 million for various initiatives in the affected Ebola countries – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

These included budget support, strengthening West Africa’s public health systems, technical assistance for effective crisis response, and emergency relief operations, channelled through the World Health Organisation and directly to individual governments.

AfDB said series of reforms to align its activities with the key objectives of the 10-year strategy with regards to the budget, decentralisation, organisational structure are yielding dividend.

These were further enhanced by a series of policies and strategies put in place, notably on governance, diversification of Bank products, regional integration, human capital strategy as well as the financial sector development policy and strategy.

It said the Bank maintained its sound financial standing under challenging global and regional economic conditions.

The four major rating agencies (Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s, Fitch Ratings, and the Japan Credit Rating Agency) reaffirmed the Bank’s AAA and AA+ credit ratings for its senior debt, reflecting its strong capital base, the firm support of its shareholders, and it’s prudent financial and risk management.

At the end of 2014, the Bank’s paid-up capital stood at $ 7.29 billion.

Credit: GNA