African Development Bank and African Development Fund AfDB/AfDF

The overarching objective of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group is to spur sustainable economic development and social progress in its regional member countries, thus contributing to poverty reduction. The Bank Group achieves this objective by mobilising and allocating resources for investment (esp. infrastructure) and providing policy advice and technical assistance to support development efforts. As an African organisation, the AfDB has a comparative advantage in the policy dialogue with African governments and sees itself as a motor for economic progress and integration. The sense of ownership and trust by African governments is quite strong. The African Development Bank Group comprises three distinct entities under one management: the African Development Bank (AfDB) as well as two concessionary windows – the African Development Fund (AfDF), and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF). Switzerland has been a member of the AfDB since 1982 and has supported the AfDF since it was founded in 1972.

The African Development Fund (AfDF) is the instrument of the AfDB that supports the least developed countries in Africa (currently 38) in their sustainable socio-economic development and poverty reduction. It focuses on five priorities in the areas of energy, agriculture, industrialisation, African integration and improvement of the quality of life for the people of Africa. The AfDF also provides technical support and supports the development of capacity building and know-how. Since 2008, the AfDF has provided earmarked funds for fragile states and regional projects.


The current ten-year strategy of the AfDB and AfDF (2013–22) focuses on two objectives: inclusive growth, and the transition to green growth. It sets five operational priorities:

  1. Scaling up infrastructure investment 
  2. Supporting regional economic integration 
  3. Facilitating investment in the private sector and supporting entrepreneurship 
  4. Improving governance and accountability
  5. Supporting training to increase the supply of skilled workers, especially among young people

Private sector development results

The promotion of small businesses and entrepreneurship to achieve broad-based growth is an effective approach in reducing poverty. Between 2011 and 2018, the AfDB and AfDF provided financial services for 900,000 micro-businesses.

Switzerland's engagement


As a member of the two governing bodies (Board of Governors and Board of Directors), Switzerland monitors and guides the AfDB's efforts to implement its poverty reduction strategy through concrete measures that produce measurable results. Switzerland engages with the AfDB to encourage the bank to ensure greater control over the programmes it supports and pay more attention to quality assurance. Several shared objectives have emerged from close working relationships within the constituency group Germany/Switzerland/Portugal/Luxembourg. Switzerland was the constituency's Executive Director for the 2017–20 period. Since September 2020, Germany has assumed this role, with a Swiss national in the position of Senior Adviser.

Switzerland focuses on the following goals:

  • climate change and renewable energies 
  • private sector development 
  • gender equality 
  • fragility and resilience-building 
  • quality and sustainability of AfDB operations

This allows Switzerland to apply its expertise in areas where it can make a difference and exert an influence to improve the transparency and measurability of AfDB/AfDF activities.

Gender equality results

Switzerland commented on an evaluation of gender mainstreaming in AfDB projects, actively contributing to the development of the new AfDB gender strategy (2021–25).


The AfDB and the AfDF are committed to further improving performance by increasing the efficiency of their activities and expanding their human resources capabilities. Moreover, the AfDB is continuously improving its focus on the achievement of development results. The COVID-19 crisis has put great pressure on all AfDB member countries, and mitigating its consequences in the coming years will be a challenge. In response, the AfDB has set up a USD 10 billion emergency fund.