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I’ve been closely watching the impressive changes at the African Development Bank.  (Our 2006 working group report recommendations are here and my 2010 progress scorecard is here.)  In particular, I’ve been encouraged by the Bank’s articulation of its comparative advantage in infrastructure and private sector and the shift in its portfolio to reflect this focus.  A big driver of who actually gets access to Bank resources is an internal scoring system based on performance.

In a big step toward improving transparency, the AfDB has this week released its 2011 Country Policy and Institutional Assessment (CPIA) ratings.  The overall top performers are Cape Verde, Ghana, Rwanda, and Mali; at the bottom are Eritrea, Zimbabwe, and Somalia.  The data includes scores for all 16 criteria for all 40 countries eligible for the soft-loan window and (grad students, take note!) includes historical data going back to 2004. (As a bonus, the Bank also plans, unlike the World Bank, to release performance scores for the hard window middle-income countries.)

This is just the latest in a series of positive moves by the Bank to up their game. In 2010, the first CGD-Brookings Quality of Official Development Assistance (QuODA) index ranked the AfDB very high relative to its peers, scoring in the top 5 (out of 31 donor institutions) in two of QuODA’s four dimensions (see table).  The one glaring shortcoming then was in the “transparency and learning” component, where the AfDB ranked 18th (after a revision to the dimension).  The Bank took this blemish seriously (and, I suspect, in part because of QuODA) made deliberate efforts to work harder on transparency. As a result of changes like joining IATI, the Bank moved up to 6th place in the most recent round of QuODA.

*Note: 2010 QUODA ratings reflect 2008 data, and 2011 ratings reflect 2009 data.

Sources: 2010 QuODA Report, 2011 QuODA Brief.

I expect that the release of the CPIA scores will unleash a small flurry of research activity. It will certainly help the Bank function more transparently for all its shareholders.

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CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.