African Development Bank: Recommendations from the High Level Panel

Taking a break from the 2008 Presidential Election, last Thursday I attended an event hosted by the Center for Global Development focusing on recommendations from the High Level Panel to the African Development Bank (ADB). Speaking at the event, Former Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin discussed the areas of most need and the best strategies for bringing about long lasting change on the continent. The following are the four essential strategies for implementing this plan:

Increase Infrastructure
- Create the means to transport products to markets on well developed road and rail systems.
- Focus on agricultural practices to improve output and help rural population.
- Foster sustainable climate change policies before it's too late. With 20% of world's rainforests, Africa should develop mitigation strategies to emphasize land rehabilitation and bio energy.

Building Capable States
- Give attention to fragile and post-conflict states with ADB involved as a monitor of regional security.
- Provide income opportunities to former combatants to give them meaningful strengths and keep them from going to private militias.

Promoting Private Sector
- Economic growth will drive employment and poverty reduction, so let companies function without strict government interactions.
- Make sure that the ADB and other financial powers on the continent don't crowd out private sector.

Developing Skills
- By 2030, African population will be equal to that of China or India. World must instill a tradition of education now before the problem affects hundreds of millions more in 20 years.
- Encourage secondary education.
- Promote use of local labor. When expatriates are hired, they bring everything they need, thus technology and skill transfers are kept to a minimum.

Lastly, Prime Minister Martin spoke extensively on the need for an African Economic Union to unite all the countries in Africa much like how European countries function under the European Union. Creating interdependence, Martin argued, can prevent regional conflicts and ensure that more international players get involved when problems do arise due to intertwined economies.