Under the auspices of the Office of the Secretary General and General Secretariat, in collaboration with the Regional Development Complex, the African Development Bank hosted a High-level Member States Engagement Framework Workshop in Abidjan on November 16 and 17, 2023. This provided an opportunity for the Bank to reaffirm its commitment to collaborate with its 54 regional member countries to support and implement projects and programs for inclusive development.
Nearly 100 ministry of foreign Affairs directors of protocol and Bank focal points from the ministries of finance, planning, economy and central banks participated in the workshop.
The Bank Group’s Directors General and Deputy Directors General in Africa, as well as its Country Managers and Regional Protocol Officers, also joined, some virtually. The framework covers bilateral agreements between the Bank and host countries, such as privileges, immunities, and staff exemptions. It also covers the organization of events, missions and official travel to member countries.
In his welcome remarks, the Bank Group’s Secretary General Vincent O. Nmehielle stressed the importance of the framework. “It will not only strengthen relations between your countries and the Bank, but also establish a network for protocol directors and Bank focal points to facilitate the exchange of knowledge.”
Opening the workshop, the Bank’s Senior Vice President, Swazi Tshabalala, stressed that the collaborative framework was essential in guiding the Bank to serve African countries better. “Our projects are designed to serve the interests of your countries; they must primarily respond to the development needs of your countries to ultimately improve the lives of the peoples of Africa,” Ms Tshabalala said.
To implement this framework, workshop participants created a network of focal points and directors of protocol units. The network will serve as a platform for exchanges between the Bank and African member countries, boost awareness of its mandate and agreements, and as a means to help build the capacity of protocol directors and focal points.
Ms Tshabalala expressed the hope that the network will also facilitate coordination between the respective government ministries and the Bank regarding hosting events and activities and facilitate cross-country engagements on issues of mutual importance.
The Bank has encountered several challenges in the implementation of host country agreements in some host countries. While some African governments recognize the Bank’s laissez-passer travel document, others continue to demand visas. Participants also discussed ways to improve the visibility of the Bank’s country engagement, information flow, and communication about its operations.
To facilitate interaction between network members, the Bank is setting up a secure digital platform for Member States’ focal points and protocol directors to improve communication, interoperability and collaboration to ensure that the Bank is more effective in its development actions.