Interview with Cyril OKOYE, Secretary General of AADFI.
1. How important were the actions taken by development banks during the crisis generated by the Covid-19 pandemic?
The COVID-19 pandemic had a devastating effect on the social and economic sectors of countries around the globe. Development Banks’ ability to play a counter-cyclical role in highly uncertain environments and foster economic stability by lending in times of crisis was one of the most powerful instruments available to governments to deal with the coronavirus crisis. Most African regional and national development banks focused on support to the health sector and the micro, small and medium enterprises as a deliberate measure to support their economies’ recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
2. What are the priority lines of action, themes, or sectors for the development banks in your region?
The priorities of development banks in Africa, particularly the national development banks, are (1) promoting and financing the real sectors of their economies; (2) mobilizing and channeling resources to the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), as well as investment in the social sector; and more importantly, align their actions toward achieving the SDGs.
3. How strongly does climate change impact your region and what are development banks doing to adapt to and mitigate it?
African Regions are greatly bothered by climate change. According to the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), Africa has been losing from 5 to 15% of its GDP per capita growth because of climate change and its related impacts.
Moreover, according to a report by UNFAP, Africa has been hit hard by the intensifying impacts of climate change. The continent urgently requires (1) increased adaptation funding to strengthen health systems; (2) bold, measurable climate adaptation responses that are gender-sensitive; (3) climate change responses that will drive the economic transformation that Africa needs; and (5) climate-resilient and low-carbon development that boosts growth, bridges the energy deficit and reduces poverty.
On what the development banks are doing to adapt and mitigate the climate impact: development banks within the region do realize that they have to adopt measures that promote the climate agenda. As such most of them have been investing in building internal capacity on mainstreaming climate agenda in their operations. Some have gone on to develop a proper action plan for climate mitigation and adaptation. Nevertheless, more need to be done in creating awareness among the majority of the development banks in the region and providing access to funding for climate mitigation and adaptation projects.
4. What do you consider that development banks in your region should focus on more strongly to improve job creation and, in general, the people’s well-being?
The major focus of DFIs in the region is to intervene in the critical sectors of the national economies by mobilizing and channeling resources to these sectors. In other words, the DFIs in the region will improve job creation and people’s well-being by scaling up financing of the productive sectors, the micro, small, and medium enterprises, intervention in the agricultural sector, and investment in the social sector.
5. In perspective, how do you view the importance of the development banks in your region? Is there a genuine interest in strengthening them and giving them a key role to play in the countries’ development?
Development banks are important in the African region as they contribute to alleviating financing constraints that hamper the growth of the productive sector of their national economies. DFIs in the region play a countercyclical role in crisis times, and this was visible in their intervention for the recovery of their economies from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Moreover, DFIs in the region will contribute to achieving the SDGs and the Paris Agreement. Besides, the stakeholders have a genuine interest in strengthening the development banks in the region, particularly the national development banks. Therefore, as an Association, the AADFI provides a tool for strengthening the African DFIs: The Prudential Standards, Guidelines, and Rating System (PSGRS). This tool strengthens specifically the African DFIs so that they operate in line with best practices and increase their reliability with their stakeholders, thus enlarging their opportunities to get funds to finance their activities.
Moreover, recognizing the crucial role of the national development banks in these challenging times, some African governments have taken bold initiatives to reposition and transform their DFIs to be efficient in delivering their mandates.
6. In this new post-Covid-19 international scenario, how do you see the relationship between development banks and a global initiative such as Finance in Common?
The COVID-19 pandemic brought to light the interconnectedness of the world. As such, addressing the challenges of development requires global collaboration. This is where the relevance of the Finance in Common initiatives becomes visible. The Finance in Common initiative can strengthen partnerships among development banks to foster their crucial role of reconciling short-term countercyclical responses to the crisis with sustainable recovery measures that will have a long-term impact on the planet and societies.
7. Do you consider that international organizations and global summits like the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP) are giving development banks the position they are entitled to and taking advantage of their potential? What would you propose?
The Multilateral DFIs do have voices at the COP. However, not much is accorded to national development banks. The national Development banks have a wider presence in their countries and for any development initiative to have a greater impact, these categories of development banks should be given proper consideration and integrated into global development discourse like the COP.
8. Just how committed are the development banks in your region to the sustainable development goals (SDGs)?
ADFIAP remains a key mover in advancing sustainable development in the region by strengthening the development of finance functions and institutions, enhancing the capacity of its members, and advocating innovations in development finance. As an organization that champions sustainable development through financing, ADFIAP serves as a platform for its members to share innovative solutions addressing economic, social, environmental, and governance challenges.
9. How are digitalization tools and financial technology being incorporated in development banks to enhance your region’s financial inclusion, and in general to improve their efficiency and coverage?
The adoption of fintech and digitalization by most African Development Institutions has fostered financial inclusion and gender equity in financing. The adoption of technology has indeed improved the efficiency and coverage of development banks in Africa.
10. What do you suggest be done to strengthen and enhance the institutional presence of the World Federation of Development Financing Institutions at the global level?
The World Federation of Development Financing Institutions(WFDFI) is a very potent platform for global cooperation and building partnership among development banks. Thus, I will suggest that the members of the WFDFI should hold regular interactions to share ideas and best practices. The WFDFI should also enhance collaboration with other global development platforms that share similar objectives.