Academic journal article Prism : a Journal of the Center for Complex Operations

The African Development Bank's Support to Post-Conflict States

Academic journal article Prism : a Journal of the Center for Complex Operations

The African Development Bank's Support to Post-Conflict States

Article excerpt

Conflict and fragility are considered to pose a major challenge to Africa's growth prospects. While the continent has seen rapid positive economic growth over the last few years, there is strong evidence that this has not resulted in inclusive economic and social transformation. The High Level Panel on Fragile States, established by President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Donald Kaberuka, and chaired by H. E. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, indicates that, "Africa is changing at an extraordinary speed." New and emerging challenges posed by rapid urbanization, youth unemployment, lack of private sector development, and pressures on natural resources, amongst others, continue to create pockets of fragility and conflict.

This article outlines the AfDB's support in some of the countries affected by fragility and conflict. It will further clarify the evolution of the Bank's approach to capture some of the most pressing emerging needs. The argument is organized in four sections: 1) the background and context of the Bank's support for post-conflict countries: 2) the tools used to address fragility and post-conflict reconstruction and development in the Mano River Union, Somalia and the DRC: 3) lessons learned from these previous experiences: and 4) new areas in which ways of providing such support are being developed.

Background and Context

The origin of the AfDB's support for the stabilization of post-conflict countries goes back more than a decade. While the Bank has responded to fragile and conflict-affected situations in Regional Member Countries (RMCs) since its inception, it was initially noted that the very institutional and policy weaknesses that characterize post-conflict countries had constrained the Bank's ability to effectively assist these countries.

Operations in post-conflict countries had been sharply reduced or stopped in the context of unstable political and economic environments and recurring conflict, as well as the increasing weight given to demonstrated country performance as a basis for allocating resources. However, by the early 2000s the Bank recognized the limitations of the approach of continued disengagement, and realized that simply withdrawing from these difficult environments until they righted themselves would only increase costs and risks in the long run. In addition, the significant negative spillover effects on better performing neighboring countries were increasing the risk of regional fragility.

Moreover, the buildup of large arrears to the Bank by these countries was itself a constraint to further engagement even when there was a peace agreement. In response, the Bank has progressively and significantly strengthened its engagement in post-conflict countries with much more targeted, refined and innovative approaches that seek to overcome the existing weak institutional and governance environments in these countries.

In 2001, the AfDB initiated support in the form of debt sustainability by establishing the Post-Conflict Country Facility (PCCF) that constituted a very specific instrument for arrears clearance. This was mainly a financial instrument that provided an incentive to the country and other donors to clear the debt of certain post-conflict countries under a strategic partnership where the Bank would put in a certain amount towards the arrears clearance, as would interested donors, and the country itself would contribute a certain amount, which could be as little as one U.S. dollar. The Bank, through the PCCF, cleared the arrears for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 2002, and Liberia and Comoros in 2007, respectively.

In 2008, the Board of Directors approved a new Bank strategy for enhanced engagement in fragile states (SEEFS). This was another major strategic innovation in the Bank's approach to address the development challenges of fragile and conflict-affected countries (FCS) and placed it within an overall operational and financial framework. …

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