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AIIB opens to more Africa membership

By Kimeng Hilton Ndukong (People's Daily Online)    18:56, August 29, 2017

Officials insist that good governance is AIIB's hallmark. (Photo/AIIB)

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, AIIB, which officially opened on January 16, 2016, has in 18 months approved funding for 17 projects in Asia and Southeast Asia worth 2.8 billion US dollars. Amongst the 56 founding member nations were two from Africa - Egypt and South Africa. One of the bank's 12 members of the board of directors is Egyptian. Ethiopia, Madagascar and Sudan have since joined AIIB membership as the bank looks forward to receive more applications from African nations.

Receiving 27 African journalists on August 29 in the bank's headquarters in Beijing, China, the vice president, corporate secretary, Sir Danny Alexander, said member countries of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, ADB, were eligible to join AIIB. He said the new bank insists on three main criteria for financing projects such as compliance with good governance, environmental and social protection standards.

"AIIB will soon carry out its first investments in Africa with 11 solar power projects in Egypt," Sir Alexander noted. He added that apart from insisting that the projects it finances be submitted to transparent international tenders or procurement procedures, AIIB also monitors their implementation to ensure that they abide by its standards. Officials explained that only AIIB member nations are eligible for financing of projects, except otherwise decided by the board of directors.

"It is because of our high standards that we recently received Triple-A credit ratings from the three main agencies. As a result, we find it easy to co-finance projects with the World Bank and other multilateral finance agencies," Sir Alexander explained. "As an investment bank, we seek connectivity between countries and the wider world by mobilizing capital for infrastructure development," said Laurel Ostfield, AIIB head of communications and development.

Sir Danny Alexander said that though membership of AIIB was limited to member nations of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, recruitment of staff is open to nationals from every country. Meanwhile, the bank plans to launch its first bond issuance soon.

The AIIB is a new multilateral financial institution founded to bring countries together to address the daunting infrastructure needs across Asia. "By furthering interconnectivity and economic development in the region through advancements in infrastructure and other productive sectors, we can help stimulate growth and improve access to basic services," says the introductory statement on AIIB's website.

Officials insisted that as a bank that is eager to protect its image and high governance standards, AIIB has zero tolerance for corruption. The 56 countries that founded AIIB have since been joined by 24 others, bringing the total membership to 80. China is the largest shareholder, followed by India. U.K., France and Canada are also members. Asian countries retain 75 percent of the 100 billion US dollars AIIB subscribed capital while other non-Asian members keep the remaining 25 percent of shares.

Kimeng Hilton Ndukong, a contributor to People's Daily Online, is Sub-Editor for World News with Cameroon Tribune bilingual daily newspaper in Cameroon. He is currently a 2017 China-Africa Press Centre, CAPC fellow.  

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Du Mingming, Bianji)

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