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EBID is an instrument for financing development and integration in West Africa —IFO

Mr Bashir Mamman Ifo, President of the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID), is feeding the ambitions of the Bank in which he built his entire career. One of the new breed of African managers, Mr Ifo, with over 13 years experience in the international financial banking business, has played an important role in the transformation of the institution. He started at EBID in 1995, where he successively held several positions of responsibility within the departments of finance, Treasury and Administration. Mr Ifo, 52, who holds an MBA in Business Administration (Finance) from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (Nigeria), was Vice-President, Finance and Corporate Services before his appointment as President of the Lome, Togo-based EBID.

In this no-holds-barred interview with AnnualMeetings Daily, he speaks on the Bank’s mandate, his scorecard and the way forward for the institution. Excerpts:

You have presided over the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development for about two years now. Can you give us a presentation on the mandate of the Bank?
The ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID), is the financial arm of ECOWAS, it is an international financial institution owned by the fifteen (15) Member States of ECOWAS: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Togo. The Bank is headquartered in Lome, in the Republic of Togo.
EBID evolved from the transformation in 1999, from the ex-ECOWAS Fund for Cooperation, Compensation and Development, established in 1975, during the same time the Executive Secretariat (now the ECOWAS Commission) was established, and became operational in 1979.
The Bank has a mission to:

l    Contribute to the realization of the objectives of ECOWAS by funding infrastructural development and all other projects within the public and private sector;

l    Aid development in Member States by financing special projects.

Since, January 2007, the Bank has been organized into a single entity, with two windows private sector and the other for public sector development.
On October 10, 2011 the Bank re-enforced its own capital from UA 603 million to UA 1 billion, about USD 1.5 billion.

Seventy (70) percent of the capital is held by Member States, while the remaining 30%, is open for subscription to non-regional Members.

EBID, being the development finance institution of ECOWAS, has made it a strategy to place emphasis on the financing of infrastructure, telecommunications, energy, industry and transportation. Can you explain what informs such strategy?
The fight against poverty and its eradication constitute major  challenge for Member Countries of ECOWAS.
Our sub-region needs to put the reduction of poverty at the heart of its development efforts and engender the economic growth rates that will underpin improvement in the lives of the people of the sub-region.

The lack of adequate socio-economic infrastructure is a major constraint to development and to poverty reduction in the subregion. West Africa faces a serious infrastructural deficit and lags behind other regions relative to basic infrastructure. Access to electricity is 30% in Africa, compared with 75% in other  least developed countries (LDCs), outside the continent. The rate is around 65% for access to water and health care, against 80% for other LDCs. Regarding roads, the rate is 34%, against 50% for other LDCs.

The rate of telecommunications penetration has not reached 13%, while the global average is 40%.

This situation presents a major impediment for competitiveness of regional enterprises relative to the rest of the world because the lack of basic infrastructure translates into higher cost of production.

This is why the development of regional infrastructure is essential for the acceleration of economic growth.

It is also important to state that EBID places importance on development of the agricultural sector. Development of the sector is crucial because it helps ensures self-sufficiency in food production. EBID is equally concerned / engaged in financing intra-regional trade in Member States as a way of developing commerce and industry within the sub-region.

Finally, the Bank is engaged in the promotion and funding of Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM) projects, including projects that promote energy efficiency, renewable energy and the market for carbon through the creation of the African Funds for biofuels along with the World Bank and other development partners.

What are the intervention mechanisms of EBID?
In its intervention framework, the Bank uses the following instruments:
For the public sector
l    Direct loans (medium and long term).
For the Private sector
l    Direct short, medium to long term loans;
Equity participation;
l    Quasi-equity (convertible bonds, loans equity);

l    Line of credit and framework agreements for refinancing in favour of national financial institutions of Member States;

l    Emissions, loan bonds, guarantee, bills and securities;
l    Financial engineering and financial services.

Can you tell us the achievements of EBID and its contribution to the economic development of the member States of ECOWAS?

In the context of its operational activities, EBID approved a total 18 projects in the amount of UA 93.6 millionin 2012.

These approvals brought the total number of projects implemented by the Bank to201since its inception as the ECOWAS Fund in 1979, corresponding toUA 1.1 billion or USD 1.7 billion. With the implementation of these projects, EBID has helped significantly against the fight against poverty in ECOWAS.
These projects have enabled:

u    The construction or rehabilitation of a 2000Km of     roads and the acquisition of three trains; 100 buses and a harbor tug;

u    Build numerous bridges and works of art;

u    Build electricity generating plants with productive capacity of 357 MW in countries of the sub-region;

u    Contribute to the interconnection of electrical networks of the sub-region for the effective achievement of the regional electrical energy market;

u    Construct three large dams, which have allowed the conversion of 220 000 hectares of land for the development of farming, fishing, industry, to promote economic development;

u    Rehabilitate, expand and modernize telephone networks;

u    Modernize the textile industry;
u    Help to promote clean development.

EBID will work to continue the mission, which has been assigned to it by the Heads of State of ECOWAS, by contributing to economic growth and social welfare of the people of West Africa through the financing of projects and programs of ECOWAS Member States.

The mobilization of financial resources has to date determined the success of your mission. Can you tell us about your policy in this area and the result so far?
To implement its mission and expand its action, EBID developed its strategic plan spanning the period 2010-2014. The emphasis of the plan is on infrastructural development. The plan envisages to spend around USD 300 per annum during the life of the plan resulting into a projected expenditure of USD 1.5 million. The financing of the strategic plan 2010-2014 of the Bank will necessitate the mobilization of resources essentially through  i) capital and ii) through loans.  In this regard, EBID has been engaged with bilateral and multilateral partners with a view mobilizing financial and technical resources for its intervention in Member states of the Community.

It is noteworthy to state that EBID obtained from the Indian Government aline of credit in the amount of USD 500 million for the financing of public sector projects. To date, the entre line has been engaged. Resources have been equally mobilized from the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), the OPEC Fund for International Development (PFID) and the UEMOA capital market.

This will also require a lot of concessional resources from partners to achieve the stated objectives of the plan. To this end, EBID has been engaged in rigorous resource mobilization efforts to actualize projections in the plan.

Could you speak to us on governance at EBID?
The decision-making bodies of EBID are:
l    The board of Governors;
l    The Board of Directors.
The Board of Governors is the highest decision-making body and has oversight functions over the bank’s Management and administration, and appoints the President of the Bank. The Board of Directors is responsible for the general operations of the Bank.

The president is responsible for the day to day management of the Bank, his powers are defined in the Articles of Association. The President is assisted by two Vice Presidents, one in charge of Finance and Corporate Services, and the other, in charge of Operations.

What are the current reforms in place to improve the management of the Bank?
EBID has completed its transfer of funds in bank, with:
u    A new business culture  oriented toward results and risk management;
u    The development of new financial instruments;
u    The introduction of new management tools and control;

u    The implementation of new procedures for all areas of the Bank, in line with international standards;
u    A policy of recruitment and the training of staff;
u    The current actions aim to;
l    Complement the existing procedures, notably in IFRS  —and the Basle II standards;
l    Improve the system of risk management ;
l    Implement a new IT Scheme at the Bank;
l    Re-enforce the capacity of the Bank in the fight against money laundering and against terrorist financing and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

What are your final words?
I want to thank you sincerely for the opportunity you have given me to highlight the decisive contribution EBID has made to social and economic development realms in Member Countries of ECOWAS.

I can unequivocally State here that EBID will remain committed towards executing the tasks assigned to it by Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS, by contributing to the socio-economic development of member States through projects and programs.

Relative to Sectorial intervention, priorities will continue to be given to infrastructure, in conformity with our strategic plan, in order to increase the productivity of the private sector and contribute to the emergence of favorable and sustained economic growth rates in the region.

And more than half of the resources will be devoted to this sector. The interventions of the Bank will equally be in other sectors such as rural development, the environment, agriculture and the development of renewable energy.

The  Bank will also support the realization of regional projects.

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