The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group signed an agreement with Cameroon to open its regional headquarters in the country’s capital, Yaoundé, reinforcing its goal to get closer to member states to prop up economic integration.

Cameroon’s Foreign Minister Lejeune Mbella Mbella and Khaled Sherif, Bank Vice President for Regional Development, Integration and Service Delivery signed the agreement in Yaoundé. Top government officials, including 11 ministers and diplomats, attended the event.

The new headquarters will cover Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Gabon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Chad. Like those of Southern, East, North and West Africa, the office is expected to improve the Bank’s impact on African livelihoods.

“This regional office will help us build dialogue with countries and Regional Economic Communities and accelerate our regional integration operations, which is one of the Bank Group’s basic principles,” Sherif said.

The agreement, which comes into effect in two months, is subject to ratification by the Bank’s Board of Directors. Cameroon’s selection was based on a transparent process and objective criteria approved by the Board of Directors of the Bank Group, Sherif said.

“This new agreement will be an innovative and modern tool to serve the people of our sub-region, through improved project quality and increased capacity of agencies, government services and other actors in the sector to implement projects,” Mbella said.

He cited some Bank-financed infrastructure projects currently under way in the region, which are expected to stimulate inter-regional trade and the emergence of a common market. The projects include the improvement of the Ketta-Djoum road and construction of the Logone river bridge between the cities of Yagoua in Cameroon and Bongor in Chad.

The Bank’s portfolio for Central Africa entails more than 44 active projects, estimated at $1.1 billion. Cameroon and the African Development Bank have been partners for nearly 47 years.

The first Bank-financed project for the country was the construction of the Douala International Airport terminal in 1972. Since then, 114 projects have been completed in Cameroon at an estimated cost of CFA 2.360 billion.

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