Magazine article New African

African Development Bank ... You Kidding? This Is the Story of How Africa Got a Development Bank in 1963, Thanks Largely to the Determination of a Visionary Liberian Technocrat, Dr Romeo Horton, Who Would Not Allow Even the World Bank to Browbeat Him on the Issue. Omar Ben Yedder Reports

Magazine article New African

African Development Bank ... You Kidding? This Is the Story of How Africa Got a Development Bank in 1963, Thanks Largely to the Determination of a Visionary Liberian Technocrat, Dr Romeo Horton, Who Would Not Allow Even the World Bank to Browbeat Him on the Issue. Omar Ben Yedder Reports

Article excerpt

As the first African countries gained independence, their pioneering leaders were passionate about the struggle for unity and development. The idea of African unity and the need for an institution for African development can be traced to the "TNT Conference" held in Sanniquelle, Liberia, in 1960. It was called TNT after Presidents Tubman of Liberia, Nkrumah of Ghana and Sekou Toure of Guinea. They argued that without unity, Africa could not develop and pledged all their efforts to bring total independence to Africa.

The establishment of the African Development Bank (ADB) and the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was fraught with difficulties. There was a consensus that unity was vital for the future development of the continent. But there were disagreements over the speed of reform and the form a united Africa should take.

In 1960, Nkrumah called a summit meeting under the auspices of the King of Morocco in Casablanca. But only the leaders of Morocco, Ghana, Guinea, Mali and Egypt attended. Later that year, the other heads of state, recognising Tubman as the doyen of African leaders, persuaded him to call another summit, which he subsequently did in Monrovia in 1961. The two groups became known as the Casablanca and Monrovia Groups.

On the basis of the discussions in Monrovia, Tubman was asked to devise a charter for unity and development that would be acceptable to the whole continent. It then occurred to a young Liberian technocrat, Dr Romeo Horton, that an African Development Bank could assist in the continent's quest for productive unity and development.

Tubman accepted Horton's proposal and mandated him to seek the endorsement of all the African leaders. When the concept was proposed to the World Bank, Horton and his associate at the time, P. Clarence Parker, a Liberian banker, were met with disdain: "What will an African Development Bank do that the World Bank is not doing or cannot do?" In fact the only reason they managed to organise a meeting at all was because Dr Horton was a friend of the vice-president of the Import Export Bank who arranged a "10-15 minute" meeting.

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The following year, at the second meeting of the Monrovia Group in Lagos, two draft charters--for the OAU and the ADB--were presented. …

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