Established in 1964 by 23 African governments, the African Development Bank Group manages the African Development Bank, the African Development Fund, and the Nigeria Trust Fund, to the end of social and economic improvements throughout Africa. Operations began in 1966 from an Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, headquarters, which has since been relocated to Tunis.
Current member nations of the African Development Bank, which the African Development Bank Group divides according to region, are: in Central Africa, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon; in East Africa, Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda; in North Africa, Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia; in Southern Africa, Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe; in West Africa, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo; and the nonbeneficiary member countries, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kuwait, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Shareholders thus include 53 African countries, called Regional Member Countries (RMCs) and 24 non-African countries. The Board of Executive Directors that governs the African Development Bank Group is composed of representatives from different member states, with RMC representatives collectively retaining a steady 60 percent of the vote.
The list of RMCs in the African Development Bank Group is almost identical to the member nations of the African Union, and the history of the two entities is intertwined, having emerged in the climate of pan-Africanism that developed in the wake of European imperialism—and amidst strong desire to turn pan-African institutions into Cold War institutions. The African Union, established in 2002, is the successor to the Organization of African Unity founded in 1963, and the spiritual successor to other attempts at African political and economic union. Foreign and economic policy, in particular, are coordinated jointly among the nations of the African Union, which include all of Africa except for Morocco (Guinea and Mauritania are currently suspended in the wake of the 2008 coups d’état). While the Organization of African Unity ostensibly protected African human rights and collective voice in the aftermath of colonialism, the African Union’s long-term goals parallel the developments of the European Union, and include an eventual central bank and common currency, as well as a region-wide investment bank and monetary fund.
The African Development Bank employs about 1,000 people, and has funded about 3,000 projects over the last four decades, with a special emphasis on the intersection of social and economic improvement, such as educational funding and attempts to improve and modernize the role of women in the African world. Many of the African Development Bank’s loans and grants go to infrastructure projects,
The African Development Fund began operating in 1974, ten years after the founding of the African Development Bank, and provides special interest-free loans to RMCs unable to qualify for African Development Bank loans, usually for projects that will help move those RMCs into a position of economic health that will qualify them for African Development Bank loans in the future. The African Development Fund is a joint operation between the African Development Bank and the governments of its members, and operates from a pool of funds contributed by non-RMC member states, which are generally replenished periodically.
With the Nigerian government, the African Development Bank Group also operates the Nigerian Trust Fund, which has fewer resources than the other African Development Bank Group entities but focuses them solely on the poorest RMCs, where many citizens live on less than a dollar a day.
- John Akokpari, Angela Ndinga-Muvumba, and Tim Murithi, eds., The African Union and Its Institutions (Jacana Media, 2009);
- Paul Collier, The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It (Oxford University Press, 2008);
- D. Fordwor, African Development Bank (Elsevier, 1981);
- Samuel Makinda, The African Union: Challenges of Globalization, Security, and Governance (Routledge, 2007);
- Tim Murithi, The African Union: Pan-Africanism, Peacebuilding, and Development (Ashgate Publishing, 2005).
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