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AfDB is scaling up investments in the High 5s —Nwabufo

Nnenna  Nwabufo, a Director at the African Development Bank (AfDB), is a thoroughbred professional. A graduate of the University of Lagos and Henley Management College in Henley-on-Thames, United Kingdom, she holds an MSc in Economics and an MBA. In this interview with AnnualMeetings Daily, Nwabufo provides an insight into the theme of the Lusaka meetings and how the AfDB is working towards achieving its 10-year strategy for Africa’s transformation. Excerpts:

NNenna NwabufoThe theme of this year’s Meetings is “Energy and Climate Change”. What informed the choice of the theme for the Lusaka meetings?
The choice of “Energy and Climate Change is about realising, on one hand, that energy is the main key to successfully managing Africa’s development challenges and on the other hand, ensuring that climate change is managed so that it does not erode development results in Africa. On the specific issue of energy, it is undisputable that it is the centrepiece of any development, be it industrialisation, integration, agriculture, agrobusiness, social services etc.  You cannot build and efficiently use schools, industries, hospitals, roads, governance structures and services etc. without energy.

The big vision of AfDB and Africa is encapsulated in the ‘High 5s’. What strategies has the Bank devised to achieve the set goals in these five priority areas and scale up the continent’s transformation?
The Bank’s Ten-Year Strategy covering the period 2013-22 has two overarching objectives of inclusive growth and transitioning to green growth. The strategy is anchored on five operational priorities: infrastructure development; regional economic integration; private sector development; governance and accountability; and skills and technology. In addition, there are three crosscutting areas of special emphasis: gender, fragile states, and agriculture and food security. As you rightly noted, the Bank is currently focusing on achieving these objectives by scaling up investments in 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.

To ensure successful scaling up of the High 5s, the Bank has recently adopted a Development and Business Delivery Model that has realigned our operations complexes in line with the High 5s.  The Model also envisages greater decentralisation of experts in various functions to the regions, while rightsizing the country and liaison offices to ensure greater development impact in our regional member-countries.  We are also strengthening our Results Measurement Framework to effectively measure achievements in the areas of the High 5s and cross-cutting issues of gender, fragile states, as well as the overarching objective of inclusive growth and transition to green growth.  The development needs of Africa are huge, so leveraging on our partnerships and coordinating these efforts with both traditional and non-traditional partners will be considerably scaled up.  In this regard, selectivity and focus will be a key success factor for us.  The High 5s already provide us with broad areas of focus and these would be sharpened through selected high impact interventions that will not only have government support and participation, but also will attract other development partners and the private sector who will complement our efforts.  The support and investment of the private sector is critical.

In what way would the current filling of vacant positions in the Bank help towards achieving its ten-year strategy for Africa’s transformation?
With our Development and Business Delivery Model and a new organisational structure in place, we have a great window of opportunity to re-align and tool our skill sets to the special needs for achieving the High 5s.  We will make special efforts to fill vacant positions with the best skills that are available in the job market for achieving our big mandate and agenda for development in Africa.

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