Islamic Development Bank Group: A New and Effective Partnership with Africa

H.E. Dr. Ahmad Mohamed Ali, President of the Islamic Development Bank, commended the Ouagadougou Declaration issued by the Board of Governors of the Islamic Development Bank Group in its 27th Annual Meeting held recently in Burkina Faso, regarding cooperation between the IDB Group with Africa. He particularly appreciated the Board's decision to allocate US$ 2 billion over the next five years to support the development efforts in African member countries, at an average amount of US$ 400 million per year.

The President of IDB said that the Ouagadougou Declaration emphasizes commitment of the Islamic Development Bank to strengthen and develop further the fruitful cooperation with its African member countries, especially the least developed among them, which are most in need among countries of the world of sustained development support.

Within the framework of the activities of the 27th Annual Meeting of the IDB Board of Governors, held at the level of Finance, Economy and Planning Ministers of the 54 member countries of IDB, a Seminar on New Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD) was organized. Ideas were floated and exchanged to achieve maximum cooperation between the IDB and its African member countries and strengthen cooperation between these African countries and the other IDB member countries.

The Ouagadougou Declaration drew attention to the gravity of the situation in Africa, especially in the light of globalization and its ramifications. The Declaration stated that such ramifications might lead to the marginalization of those who did not have the minimum capacity to keep abreast of pioneering countries. This constitutes a real threat to many African countries, a matter that requires the giving of more attention to these countries to help them avoid exposure to such danger.

The Declaration confirmed that the IDB would give maximum priority to basic and technical education, as well as to vocational training, where this might help in alleviating poverty. The Bank would also give special attention to bridging the gap between the number of males and females attending schools and would encourage regional higher education projects that are oriented towards development. The Bank would also facilitate the benefiting of African member countries from IDB Scholarship Programme, including the IDB Merit Scholarship Programme, the M. Sc. Programme for the nationals of least developed member countries. Non-member African countries have also benefited from the IDB Scholarship Programme for Muslim Communities in Non-Member countries to study medicine, engineering, pharmacy, agriculture, etc., from which more than six thousand male and female students have benefited so far.

The Ouagadougou Declaration confirmed that the IDB would continue its humanitarian and development projects aiming at supplying drinking water, as well as water for irrigation. It would also give special attention to basic healthcare in Africa. The Bank would support the various initiatives for the combating of malaria and other indigenous diseases, through treatment, prevention and research activities.

The Declaration commended the efforts of the Islamic Development Bank in supporting infrastructure projects in Africa and stated that it would continue supporting joint African projects. It also confirmed that special importance would be attached to the private sector, especially small and medium-size enterprises that are considered to be an important factor in creating job opportunities, especially in rural area. The Bank would also lend support to African member countries through its technical assistance and concessionary financing to promote their foreign trade and work towards encouraging intra-trade among these countries and between them and other member countries of the Bank.

The Ouagadougou Declaration stressed the necessity of strengthening the capacity of African institutions in the various fields, such as project implementation, science and technology, especially in the areas of information, communications, private sector development, investment promotion and development contracting sector, consulting sector and regional policies. The Declaration stated that the Bank would lend financial and technical support to help achieve progress in these areas.

The Declaration stressed also the importance of cooperation among African countries to implement IDB interventions and projects, in the form of experience and expertise exchange among them, direct investments and joint projects. It added that the Bank would encourage the intervention and participation of banks and other financial institutions and that the Bank was contemplating the possibility of making NGOs participate in the implementation of projects rapidly and efficiently.

It is worthwhile mentioning that the Islamic Development Bank has provided its African member countries so far a total of US$ 9.3 billion. This amount has been used in constructing about 6,000 km. worth of roads; drilling 7,003 wells for drinking water; constructing 303,000 classrooms and about 200 health centers and the irrigation of about 500 hectares of agricultural lands.