Bank Information Center (BIC)

African Development Bank

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Established in 1964 with a mandate to reduce poverty and promote economic and social development in Africa, the African Development Bank is becoming a major financier for development on the continent. Long considered a small player, AfDB is making strides toward fully joining the ranks of its sister institutions under increasing scrutiny from civil society.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) is similar to the World Bank in that it lends money and gives grants to African governments and invests in private companies operating in Africa. The AfDB is increasingly taking a leadership role in initiatives to promote infrastructure financing and regional integration in Africa. In 2008, AfDB lending on the continent surpassed that of the World Bank for the first time.

Despite its growing profile, however, the AfDB’s standards and capacity to implement them remain behind similar institutions when it comes to social and environmental responsibility. It is making strides with its new disclosure policy and the development of a modern safeguards system. At the same time, with increasing demand from CSOs for participation and accountability, the AfDB is slowly becoming more responsive to the public it is meant to serve. However, even as the Bank becomes more open, its appetite for risky projects continues unabated, particularly within the infrastructure, energy and agriculture sectors.

BIC is a member of the CSO Coalition on the AfDB, an African-led network of civil society organizations that advocates for greater accountability, transparency and sustainability in the operation of the AfDB and the projects that it finances.

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