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African Development Bank: Clearing out the deadwood

The African Development Bank (ADB) gets full marks for its efforts to reform and modernize its operations in what is arguably one of the world's toughest banking environments.

The ADB launched its reform programme in 1995 with the aim of improving lending operations, financial management policies and institutional management governance.

"With respect to project-related activities, a framework is being put in place to monitor, enforce quality control and streamline operational reporting at various stages of the project cycle," says ADB spokesman Kemal Saiki in Abidjan.

A few years ago there was serious concern over the ADB's future. The bank's financial position, and indeed its viability, was threatened by a policy of granting hard-currency loans to countries without the ability to service their obligations.

That policy has been stopped as part of the reform programme.

"The ADB is doing a first-rate job in terms of improving the efficiency of its operations," says Richard Akwei, vice-president of JP Morgan in Johannesburg. "It has been successfully streamlining its operations and sharpening its focus. In the past it had tried to be all things to many people and a large part of its loan portfolio was with countries that could not service their obligations.

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