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AfDB's Board Meetings Expected Closer Ties with Asia
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Shanghai, China's business hub, is agog with activities as it is playing host to the annual board meetings of the Africa n Development Bank (ADB) Group on May 16-17, 2007, while the Africa n side is seeking more cooperation with the Asian countries, especially with China.

It is the first time the annual board meetings of the AfDB are held in Asia, and the second time outside Africa.

Themed "Africa n and Asia: Partners in Development", the two-day meetings will focus on infrastructure development in Africa, regional integrity and poverty relief.

At the annual board meetings, questions, such as what lessons can Africa learn from Asia's development experience? Can relations between both regions, built on a win-win formula, enable Africa claim a more significant share of world trade? And, can Africa - Asian commercial and financial ties facilitate the development of the Africa n private sectors, will engage the attention of attendees.

China's trade volume with Africa currently stands at over US$29 billion and the Shanghai meetings will enable the participants to seek ways of consolidating on the gains from the trade relationship between Africa n and Asian countries, and China.

According to the Africa n Development Bank's Africa n Economic Outlook 2007, "Africa has experienced the highest economic growth in the last two decades, with the rate of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth averaging about 5 percent annually in the past six years and is expected to reach over 6 percent in 2007. Growth has been more broad-based, with non-oil exporters growing as fast as oil exporters."

Shanghai will afford the President of the ADB Dr. Donald Kaberuka and his team to assess whether the growth projections for Africa, specifically, have been met or not and seek ways to narrow the developmental gaps as well as strengthen gains achieved.

Shanghai will also offer Africa n leaders an opportunity to assess the level of integration, by the AfDB, of their economies with the global economy as well as review regional efforts at poverty eradication, unemployment reduction and bridging the digital divide.

Founded in 1964, the AfDB is a regional multilateral development finance institution to mobilize resources for the funding of economic development and social projects and programs in its regional member countries.

Currently, membership of the bank has increased to 77 countries, consisting of 53 Africa n members and 24 non-Africa n members from Americas, Europe and Asia. China became a member in 1985. Today AfDB's share capital stands at US$32.5 billion and the bank started its lending activities in 1967 with a modest US$250 and 33 subscribed regional members.

The opening of the bank's capital to non-regional members took place in 1982 and this move has enabled the bank to become a truly multilateral development finance organization as well as paved the way for the over five successive years' capital increases the institution has experienced since then.

Since it was founded, the AfDB has granted 2,988 loans worth over 60 billion dollars, of which 15.3 billion dollars has been repaid.

With its motto of "building today, a better Africa tomorrow", the AfDB has now aimed to broaden its channel to absorb more experiences on economic growth and investment from all over the world, especially Asia, so as to facilitate the development of Africa, to seek cooperation with the Asian countries including China, and to integrate its operation into globalization trend.

(Xinhua News Agency May 17, 2007)

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