The DBSA celebrates 40 years of development impact and regional integration
6 Jul, 2023

Boitumelo Mosako, CEO of DBSA


This year marks the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA)’s 40th anniversary. Since its founding in June 1983, the Bank has grown to become Africa’s largest development finance institution (DFI), delivering progress through critical infrastructure that transforms livelihoods, while sustaining and growing emerging economies.


The DBSA’s formation four decades ago was the brainchild of a collaboration between the then South African government with the Bantustans of Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Venda, and Ciskei. Over the first decade, the Bank performed a broad economic development function within the homeland constitutional dispensation of that time. The beginning of the democratic era in 1994 launched a critical transformation of the Bank’s role and function, and in 1997 the DBSA was reconstituted in terms of the DBSA Act as a DFI.


Since its reform, the Bank has flourished under the executive and operational direction of developmentalists who led it from strength to strength. Each era of the Bank’s leadership has held steadfast to its mandate to promote economic growth, development, human resource development and institutional capacity building through sustainable development projects and programmes centred around the provision of infrastructure.


In 2023, this mandate was passed on to the Bank’s first woman, and black woman CEO, Boitumelo Mosako. Speaking of the birthday commemoration, she said, “Celebrating 40 years of progress is a moment of reflection on the achievements of the Bank, and none of them would have been possible without the excellence of our development practitioners. Our team has shown up to meet the needs of our growing economy. Aligning to each administration’s plan, from the first democratic administration’s Reconstruction Development Programme to the National Development Programme – we have evolved in diligent response to government’s plans, while connecting South Africa to regional markets across Africa. To date, DBSA is one the largest DFI in Africa, with an impressive loan book that’s sitting at R100 billion. We have realised significant progress since our reconstitution.”


The Bank has grown in leaps since the democratic dispensation, and some highlights worth noting include:


  • The DBSA’s annual loan disbursements were R717 million in 1994 and in 2022, they were at a recorded R12.9 billion.
  • Interest income in 1994 was at R547 million, and in 2022, it was sitting at R8.9 billion.
  • The Bank’s loan book in 1994 was sitting at R4.8 billion and in 2022, it was a recorded R90 billion
  • Shareholder’s equity grew from R4.5 billion in 1994, to R42.9 billion in 2022.
  • Net earnings from the Bank rose from the 1994 figure of R255 million to the 2022 recorded figure of R3.6 billion.
  • Total assets in 1994 were sitting R6 billion, and in 2022, the Bank recorded total assets of R100 billion.
  • Today, the DBSA is working on an infrastructure project pipeline worth more than R155 billion across its various divisions.


Over the years, the Bank has extended its presence in the infrastructure value chain, building its capability to not only prepare and finance projects, but to also deliver them. Between 2002 – 2022 alone, the bank, through its infrastructure build process, has built and refurbished 726 schools; completed 404 health facilities and 456 social houses. The catalytic effect of this work has been notable in the ripple effect of development impact, facilitating the creation of more than 37 000 jobs in 2022 alone, compared with only 300 jobs in 1994. Similarly, transformation by way of supporting small black-owned businesses to the tune of R3.2 billion compared with R10.5 million in 1994.


The 40th anniversary of the DBSA was celebrated at the Jabulani DLabs Precinct, in Soweto, Johannesburg. The Jabulani DLabs Precinct is part of a network of development labs in townships around the country built to spur entrepreneurship, create jobs, facilitate skills development, and support arts and culture. The aim with this development model is to build 100 DLabs across the country and support them in their nascent stages until they become self-sufficient. This is part of the Bank’s activities that support local community development, augmented by the Partner-with-a-District programme that anchors local government capacity building.


“We led the development of key infrastructure such as the Gautrain, stadiums for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, student housing, roads expansion, airport refurbishments, public healthcare infrastructure, and the world-first, IPP Office and the programs run by that office. We are bringing that expertise and capacity to pointedly to local government to help our municipalities run effective administrations that deliver critical services to citizens,” added Mosako.


Since its establishment, the DBSA has consistently received unqualified annual audit opinions from auditors, a testament its commitment to sound financial management and governance. This unblemished audit record has instilled confidence in stakeholders and allowed the Bank to bolster its efforts in advancing development objectives.


The Bank has been a driving force in funding and supporting numerous infrastructure projects across sectors such as energy, water, transportation, and telecommunications. Through collaboration and partnership with public and private sector, the DBSA continues to leverage collective expertise and resources. “As we look ahead, we recognise the changing dynamics and emerging challenges facing Africa. We are committed to embracing innovation and technology to drive digital transformation, enhance project delivery, and improve the efficiency of our operations. Additionally, sustainability will remain at the core of our investments, ensuring that our projects contribute to a greener, more inclusive future,” concluded Mosako.





@Boitumelo Mosako
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