By Etuka Sunday
Heads of four regional development banks (RDBs) meeting virtually on Tuesday reaffirmed their commitment to working together to build back better in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The meeting was hosted by African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina, the outgoing chair of the group. He was joined by Odile Renaud-Basso, new President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD); Masatsugu Asakwa, President of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and Mauricio Claver Carone the new president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
During the one-hour conversation, the RDB heads discussed key areas for mutual cooperation and to boost their regions’ economies post COVID-19. These included debt, climate resilience financing, the importance of resilient infrastructure, health infrastructure and access to and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
To mitigate the socio-economic impacts of novel Coronavirus and to assist member countries, Adesina said that RDBs had so far collectively disbursed about $230 billion dollars, but insisted they needed to work even more closely together, as the world experienced a second wave of the virus, and given the looming debt crisis.
Adesina described the conversation as an opportunity to share lessons in particular from the current pandemic, climate, on what we are doing, the work environment and attracting investments for the private sector.
“As RDBs I think that we are very special… I’d like to explore ways where we learn from each other and to develop cross-regional partnerships on shared solutions to things that we see,” Adesina said.
In Europe, liquidity support and debt restructuring were key areas of concern for that region, according the EBRD head. In Asia, greater access to health, education, and a COVID-19 vaccine access, distribution and social protection program were key priority areas, while in Latin America, where the pandemic has hit particularly hard, climate issues, debt and job creation with an emphasis on digitization, were among the top areas of concern.
Underlining the commonality of the impact of COVID-19, Adesina also noted that Africa had the added plight of huge job losses in the informal sector, and a deficit in healthcare, “an area for great collaboration between us,” he said, “especially in pharmaceuticals and healthcare infrastructure…I look forward to ways in which we can leverage resources, in particularly attracting private sector investment,” Adesina said.
At the end of the meeting, Adesina announced that EBRD would take over chairmanship of the group .
“I hand it over to you to chair the meeting from 2021,” he told Renaud-Basso.
The Regional Development Bank Heads hold meetings usually twice a year, in the margins of the World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings and Spring meetings.