Your Excellencies,

Dear Governors,

Commissioner of the African Union Commission,

Honorable Ministers,

Heads of Regional Economic Communities,

Heads of international, bilateral, and regional financial institutions,

Delegates and shareholders,

Executive Directors, Senior management, and staff of the African Development Bank,

It is amazing that a week has gone by so fast for the 2023 Annual Meetings. When we all arrived here, we came together in this beautiful city of Sharm El-Sheikh, the city of peace, to engage in discussions on climate change. To discuss how we will mobilize climate finance and support green growth with the private sector.

You came because you believe in Africa.

You came because you support Africa.

You came because you are a partner of Africa.

Our leaders were here in large numbers. President El-Sisi was here as the chief host for the Annual Meetings. The President’s presence and message showed his very strong commitment to the cause of climate finance for Africa, of course following on the incredibly successful CoP27 meetings, held right here, in this same place. President of Comoros and Chairman of the African Union was here. The chairman of the African Union Commission was here. The President of Zimbabwe was here. The Vice President of Tanzania, the Prime Minister of Somalia, the Prime Minister of Rwanda, the Prime Minister of Central Africa Republic, the Prime Minister of Burundi were all here, and, of course, they were joined by the Prime Minister of the Arab Republic of Egypt.

Their collective presence shows the strong support the African Development Bank has in its drive to accelerate Africa’s development.

I heard so many things in these meetings.

I took a lot of notes, as I always do, because the points you raised, the issues you raised, the guidance that you gave, are also crucially important to note them, remember them, reflect on them, and adjust based on them.

I heard that we should leverage the private sector for climate finance.

I heard that we should accelerate investments in renewable energy.

I heard that we should have a just and fair energy transition, and assure that we have energy access, affordability, and security for Africa.

That Africa needs to use its natural gas for solving its energy challenge, including gas to power, liquified natural gas for cooking to save the lives of millions of women, who die every single year using dirty fuels, charcoal, and firewood; and there are children that die with them for just trying to make what we take for granted – making a decent meal for their families.

That we should accelerate the support to countries on the development of their Nationally Determined Contributions and the Long-Term Strategies to support green transitions and green growth for our economies. I am absolutely convinced that it is in the interest of Africa to green its own economies.

We heard about the reform of the global financial architecture, and how critical this is, and the reforms should strengthen, not diminish, the roles of the multilateral development banks that are in the regions like ourselves; because it’s not just the global public goods that matter; global public goods land in regions, in countries, in communities; and the regional multilateral development banks know their regions, are present in their regions, have strategies for their regions, are trusted by their regions and deploy policy instruments in dialogue with their regions better than anybody else can do because they are trusted in those regions.

We heard about very strong support for the Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) to be re-channeled to Africa through the African Development Bank and that lead SDR donors should help to make this happen now that the financial proposal of the Bank, working collaboratively with the International InterAmerican Development Bank, now meets the reserve asset quality called for by the IMF for the SDR Asset Reserve.

We heard about strong appreciation for the African Development Bank’s leading globally on innovative approaches to mobilizing financing including its celebrated “Room to Run” with synthetic securitization, among others, with great support from our shareholders.

At these Annual Meetings, we celebrated the first two projects that were enabled for the Room to Run transactions that were funded by the UK government and allowed us to free up $2 billion. We celebrated those for projects on green growth and climate resilient technologies for Senegal and Egypt, thanks to the support of the UK Government to the Room to Run program.

So, let’s do more and keep on running!

We heard that we should continue to expand support for food security.

That we should tackle debt issues, and that there should be urgent measures for debt resolution and to make the G20 Common Framework on debt work.

And that we should continue to focus on reducing fragility and the links between conflicts, fragility, and development, including the Bank’s program that we plan to do on security indexed investment bonds.

That we should continue to focus on women and the youth, especially for skills and entrepreneurship, and there was very strong support for the Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Banks.

That we should continue to be selective and focus on areas of comparative advantage of the Bank, as well as improve the quality of our operations.

That, as I have always said, big issues require us to put our hands around the baobab tree in Africa-that’s how it works. And Africa’s challenges are like baobab trees; we have to put our hands around them.

And that calls for partnerships – a lot more partnerships.

Partnerships in developing, executing, implementing and resourcing programs.

Partnerships in mobilizing resources.

Dear Governors, I tremendously enjoyed our Governors’ dialogue, which went on for more than three hours.

And I remember as that was going on and time was ticking off, Simon Mizrahi, Vice President [Technology and Corporate Services], who did a very splendid job of moderating that session, walked up to me and said, “President, time is ticking and I know you have several other things to do, and I wonder whether we will be able to take everybody.”

I told him, “Simon, the most important people for me at our Annual meetings are our governors; every other thing, we build it around them. I want to hear them, I want to get their views, I want to hear their perspectives…. If this means we go on for four hours, let it be, we continue to do that.”

We heard from our governors on several other areas:

That we need a much larger African Development Bank as we look to the future of the biggest challenges facing Africa as it copes with this deluge of global challenges.

And that the Bank is more crucial and well trusted than any other financial institution because the Bank knows Africa, and I think, as the governor from Saudi Arabia said, it has a heart for Africa. Valencia reminded us that Africa is our mandate, and we trust you when it comes to Africa.

We heard that Africa would shape the future of the world economy, as my sister US Assistant Secretary for International Trade and Development Alexia Latortue said.

The African Development Bank will be the key to unleashing Africa’s potential.

And we saw that today, as you Governors, in your thought meeting, spoke and discussed a communique for the Bank, where you express your support for our Board of Governors of the African Development Fund to leverage its equity and mobilize more resources on the capital markets.

This was a long journey, long discussions, deliberations, questions, issues raised, as they should be raised; but we came to a point where we all collectively agreed we need more resources for the low-income countries and that we should leverage the equity that the Bank has. And our governors said that we should pursue this.

And I want to say that when the agreements are fully reached and implement this could unlock several billions of dollars for low-income and fragile countries in Africa that could potential be about $4billion per replenishment cycle; that could potentially grow to $27 billion, maybe even more depending on when we launch it and how much equity we build on it over time. But what is important is that we came here, together.

I want to thank you very much. We will continue to put in place as per your statements in the communique, the enablers necessary to potentially leverage the equity of the fund and the international capital.

Dear governors, distinguished ladies and gentlemen,

We can therefore leave Sharm El-Sheikh with excitement!

The whole of the week has been simply phenomenal.

I’d like to thank you the Governors and your delegations for your excellent participation.

I’d like to thank all the participants, who attended and participated in sessions, as you hurdled in the hallways, over lunch, over dinner, over all the other events.

The only thing left now, as you know I love dancing, and hope, somehow, we can have that tonight.

New friends were made, that will help advance Africa’s development.

I’d like to thank the Governor of Egypt, Governor Abdalla, and the entire government for an incredible job. When I came here and I came to see H.E. President El-Sisi, and as we were walking from the meeting, he told me: “You will enjoy your annual meetings here because we will spare no expense to make it one of the very best you have ever had.”

And that is exactly what has been done. I would like the staff of the Central Bank of Egypt to please rise, because they have worked.

Thank you, thank you very much.

And please other agencies—from the ministry of International cooperation, ministry of Health, ministry of Foreign affairs, everybody worked so hard—It was an all-government affair.

And of course, the Governorate of the South Sinai, they did all this work and facilities for us. Thank you to Governor Major General Fouda, for all of that.

The spouses were also not left out; in fact, my wife told me that they had so much fun that some of the men that were actually supposed to be in these meetings decided to be ‘spouses’. So they went to their own visits and many of them were snorkelling—that was fun, and thank you very much for all of that.

The lunches and the dinners were great.

And we enjoyed the Africa Day with the beautiful cultural evening yesterday!

It is wonderful to dwell together in unity, joining hands and hearts across the world for Africa.

I’d like my Governors, governors of the Bank, to please stand. 

Thank you very much Governors for being here, thank you for your contributions and thank you for the excellent support.

Without any doubt this is one of our best Annual Meetings ever!

And we certainly look forward to coming back!

Kudos to all the staff of the Bank, I have great staff working for me; my staff please stand, from senior vice-president, vice-presidents, DGs, directors, everybody, excellent job that you did—thank you very much!

We have Javier [Javier Fournier-Conde, Lead Coordinator, Conference and Meetings] and his team—thanks Javier!

And there are some folks that you actually don’t see here for they are in the backroom, making interpretation work, so that we can hear each other, and therefore we can understand each other.

And we couldn’t come here without drivers, without security staff, all those that work so late at night to make sure that we can get from place to place.

The technicians, electricians… everything seems to work but it’s not like magic, these guys worked to make sure it works.

Thank you everybody!

And so let us leave Sharm El-Sheikh with a greater sense of commitment.

A greater commitment to working together.

A greater commitment to supporting the Bank.

A greater commitment to supporting Africa.

A greater commitment to building a more resilient Africa.

A greater commitment to stay with Africa.

For Africa will shine!

We look forward to seeing you all at the Annual Meetings of the Bank in Nairobi.

It’s therefore a great pleasure to congratulate our new chairperson of the Board of Governors, Prof. Njuguna, the Minister of Finance of Kenya.

Congratulations as well to the new members of the Board of Governors of the Bank.

Thank you all very much. Merci beacoup. Shukran, and God Bless.