During the official opening of the 3rd African Women’s Economic Empowerment Summit held last week in Lusaka, Zambia, the President of the African Development Bank, Donald Kaberuka, urged countries to involve women in their development agendas to spur economic growth in nations.
“We are working to establish targets that include gender in analysis, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation of all Bank-funded projects,” Kaberuka said, noting that AfDB intends to intensify gender mainstreaming in the Bank’s operations and in its regional economic and sector work.
In the previous year, the AfDB approved the US $125-million Africa Small and Medium Enterprise Programme to support SMEs in Africa. For this year’s summit whose theme was “African Women, Realising Africa’s Economic Potential”, Kaberuka stated that the Bank is expanding its investment services, including risk-sharing facilities, credit lines, loans, equity – products that can improve women’s access to finance.
“In Zambia, the AfDB developed the Zambia Small and Medium Enterprise Support Programme, which includes targeting women-owned SMEs as a priority. Through this programme, the Bank has supported two commercial banks in Zambia through lines of credit to provide financing to over 70 SMEs, along with training in financial and business skills,” Kaberuka said.
Also supporting Women empowerment, the founder of New Faces, New Voices, Graça Machel urged African women to form strong and strategic networks to enable them to influence change among policy-makers during the African Women’s Economic Empowerment Summit.
“We can positively improve the quality of the lives of our villages, communities and the rest of society when we have access to the right knowledge and support. Scaling up is now a reality,” she said.
While Women Empowerment is the next agenda, the African Development Bank currently finances various projects in Zambia worth about US $850 million, including the development of the Kazungula Bridge, Nacala Corridor, Nkana Water Supply and Sanitation Project, climate resilience programmes, the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program, and skills development, to mention a few.