Canada looks south

Just before last week’s G20 summit in Pittsburgh, Josh reminded us to look north to Canada, the host of the next G8 summit. Well Canada, it seems, is looking south- towards Africa. On Friday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that Canada will make $2.6 billion in additional lending available to the African Development Bank (AfDB). This is great news. The increase, which will triple Canada’s “callable capital” to the AfDB, will enable the AfDB to increase lending by 75% compared to its original planned lending for 2010.

The announcement comes after the African Development Bank’s most recent call for more resources ahead of the Pittsburgh G20. In response to the global financial crisis, the Bank expects its investments in 2009 to double, with commitments amounting to some $11 billion (compared to $5.8 billion the previous year). The Bank’s funding shortfall is expected to be $3 billion over the next year.

Canada was the only G20 country to step forward in Pittsburgh with new resources for the Bank. The African Development Bank responded to the announcement with the following quote:

“I very much welcome Canada’s generous offer to triple its callable capital to the AfDB, and will strongly recommend acceptance by our shareholders, declared AfDB Group President Donald Kaberuka. Canada’s action responds to the needs in Africa. It will enable the Bank to continue its support to African countries affected by the financial and economic crisis. It will help facilitate trade, private sector activities, including in the low income countries, and to promote growth. It gives practical effect to the commitments made by G20 countries, and to their challenge to the MDBs, including the AfDB, to step up their efforts in responding quickly and effectively to the crisis. The offer is also a positive signal of confidence in the AfDB and that the resources will be used to good effect.”

This is a great sign that ahead of 2010, Canada is already looking towards Africa. 2010 is a big year for the continent: it’s the due date for the delivery of the Gleneagles promises and 5 years away from the deadline for meeting the Millennium Development Goals. As host of the G8 summit and now the next G20 gathering, Canada holds tremendous influence over the global agenda for the coming year. Here at ONE, we hope that the Canada’s support of the AfDB is the first of many steps that Canada will take between now, 2010 and beyond.

-Nora Coghlan

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