Last Friday saw the 49th annual meetings of the African Development Bank (AfDB) come to a close in Kigali, Rwanda. The Bank, which turns 50 later this year, held the five-day gathering under the banner “The Next 50 Years: The Africa We Want,” focusing on long-term efforts to meet its goal of reducing poverty by promoting investment across the continent. The more than 3,000 delegates in attendance discussed the challenges facing the AfDB’s 54 regional member countries and steps that should be taken to help Africa meet its potential.

Rwanda was a fitting venue for the events, as the host country marks the twentieth anniversary of the genocide in which an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in the span of just 100 days. Although its government is not without its critics, Rwanda has emerged from the devastation of the genocide as a leading example of resilience and economic potential, posting strong economic growth numbers in recent years and rolling out numerous home-grown reforms.

AfDB President Donald Kaberuka, who before taking the helm of the Bank served eight years as Rwanda’s Finance Minister, urged delegates in remarks Thursday to draw on the Rwandan example and “look to their culture, their history, the nature of the crisis they face and come up with their own solutions.”

Last Friday saw the 49th annual meetings of the African Development Bank (AfDB) come to a close in Kigali, Rwanda. The Bank, which turns 50 later this year, held the five-day gathering under the banner “The Next 50 Years: The Africa We Want,” focusing on long-term efforts to meet its goal of reducing poverty by promoting investment across the continent. The more than 3,000 delegates in attendance discussed the challenges facing the AfDB’s 54 regional member countries and steps that should be taken to help Africa meet its potential.

Rwanda was a fitting venue for the events, as the host country marks the twentieth anniversary of the genocide in which an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in the span of just 100 days. Although its government is not without its critics, Rwanda has emerged from the devastation of the genocide as a leading example of resilience and economic potential, posting strong economic growth numbers in recent years and rolling out numerous home-grown reforms.

AfDB President Donald Kaberuka, who before taking the helm of the Bank served eight years as Rwanda’s Finance Minister, urged delegates in remarks Thursday to draw on the Rwandan example and “look to their culture, their history, the nature of the crisis they face and come up with their own solutions.”

At the same time, Kaberuka acknowledged the importance of foreign aid and investment, and attracting investment was a major focal point of the meetings. In this regard, Africa’s leaders have reason for optimism. The annual “African Economic Outlook” report jointly published by the AfDB, UNDP and OECD projects that foreign investment in Africa will reach $84.3 billion in 2014, a record high.

One of the headlines of the AfDB meetings was the announcement of the Africa50 Infrastructure Fund, a $3 billion fund that hopes to raise money from African countries, the AfDB and other development financiers, and institutional investors such as pension and sovereign wealth funds. Another important announcement came from China, in recent years the largest investor in African infrastructure projects, when the country announced that it is co-financing with the AfDB a $2 billion infrastructure fund that will be open to all bidders, a departure from its much-criticized policy of awarding contracts only to Chinese firms.

The United States is also turning its attention to investment in Africa. While Deputy Treasury Secretary Sarah Bloom Raskin attended the AfDB meetings, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker led a delegation of U.S. companies to Ghana, highlighting the potential of increased trade and investment in Africa to benefit the economies of both the U.S. and its African partner countries.

Across the continent, GDP growth is rising steadily, with the AfDB projecting a rise from an average of 3.9 percent in 2013 to 4.8 percent in 2014. Nigeria made news in April when the country overhauled its GDP data to reveal an increase from $262 billion to $488 billion, surpassing South Africa as the continent’s largest economy. Such promising GDP numbers, however, belie increasing income inequality across Africa, with most income gains going to the already wealthy. As Donald Kaberuka put it during his remarks to attendees, “You cannot eat GDP,” and much progress remains to be made in meeting the basic needs of the population of each African country.

As Mr. Kaberuka nears the end of his ten-year term, no doubt thinking about the legacy he wants to leave behind, he is moving the Bank’s headquarters from its temporary location in Tunis back to its original home in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. The decision to return to Ivory Coast, a country still recovering from the civil war that forced the Bank’s staff to seek refuge in Tunisia, reflects AfDB’s optimistic outlook. The continent’s challenges are not about to disappear, but increasing investment, coupled with homegrown solutions, offer an opportunity to make the most of Africa’s potential.