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African Development Bank’s return to Cote d’Ivoire is ‘symbol of confidence’

The head of the African Development Bank (AfDB) has said the organisation will be “fully involved” in financing a range of infrastructure projects in Cote d’Ivoire following the relocation of its headquarters to the country.

The AfDB’s registered office has been in Cote d’Ivoire’s capital, Abidjan, since 1964, but years of civil war forced the bank to operate from Tunisia.

However, AfDB president Donald Kaberuka said the return to Abidjan this summer “of the premier African financial institution is a sign of confidence and a powerful symbol”.

Kaberuka said the bank would be a “symbol of the renaissance of the Ivorian economy after a decade of recession and a symbol of the reconstruction of Ivorian society”. He said the AfDB’s active portfolio in Cote d’Ivoire currently had 11 operations worth some €233 million.

Kaberuka said: “These are mainly infrastructure projects in a context of post-conflict rebuilding. Half of the resources are allocated to the private sector for such projects as the construction of the Henri Konan Bedie Bridge, and the extension of the Azito and Ciprel power stations.”

In addition to Kaberuka himself, the bank chief said AfDB vice-presidents and 1,000 staff had already moved to Abidjan, with a further 500 staff expected. “Conditions are right to enable the AfDB to work effectively," Kaberuka said.

For Africa as a whole, Kaberuka said the bank’s “intervention budget” portfolio stands at $9 billion for 2014. He said an emergency meeting of the bank’s board held on 18 August, had authorised a multinational grant of $60 million to help efforts to combat the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The grant will be made to the World Health Organisation’s sub-regional Ebola coordination centre, based in Guinea.

AfDB is also involved in a $60m multinational response to strengthen health systems and regional institutions in West Africa as a result of the Ebola outbreak. The bank said infrastructure development would include the deployment of mobile telecommunications networks, support to overhaul laboratories in the region and the provision of modern waste management facilities.

Earlier this month, World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim pledged to provide up to $200m in emergency funding to help countries “cope with the economic impact of the crisis” and improve public health infrastructure.

Cote d’Ivoire is among several countries in sub-Saharan Africa that are expected to see faster economic growth than any other region by 2040, according to a report by professional services firm PwC.

PwC said Abidjan is one of the so-called ‘next 10’ cities in the region where foreign investors will be attracted to the “untapped potential” of opportunities.

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