After two terms at the helm of one Africa’s premier institutions, Dr. Kaberuka steps down from the Presidency of the African Development Bank (AFDB) in September. He has truly been the virtuoso who guided the prominent multifaceted African institution through the stormy times of the global financial crisis, climate-change and emergence of China. He prudently steered Africa’s financing institution and placed the continent on the best path for sustainable development.
Dr. Kaberuka assumed the reigns of the bank to the backdrop of a continent marred by the AIDS epidemic, weak political institutions and heavily burdened by debt, to go along with the previously lost decade of conflicts, lack of policy improvements and poor growth for Africa.
More recently the majority of African economies were unscathed by the financial crisis as most of them were not interconnected with world financial markets, the high oil prices and greater foreign direct investments inflows in the prior years helped it cope with the later shocks as demand fell and the heavily commodity dependent African nations suffered.
During his tenure, Africa benefitted from the rising prices of its plentiful extractive industries and the continent saw positive growth with some countries in the double digits, with better macro-economic footing and politically more confident on the world stage, the continent took on pressing issues such climate change on the world stage as a more unison entity.
The path that the president of the African Development Bank led Africa in the last decade has been a one where infrastructure development was deemed a priority and crucial to the innovation and diversification of African economies. Dr. Kaberuka made infrastructure a key component of his Africa growth strategy and the biggest percent of the bank’s nearly 30 billion active portfolios is investment in infrastructure. President Kaberuka has often emphasized the infrastructure that Africa’s trade desperately so needs, transportation, telecommunication (fiber-cable) and energy production and distribution. Under his leadership the African Development Bank has been the catalyst, finding the resources for infrastructure project and coordinating with the other institutions on the continent such as the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA) and the efforts of the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) together with others.
Unfortunately with all the per capita GDP growth and overall improvements in the human development indicators in the last decade under, most of the countries will not meet the Millennium Development Goals, the benchmark set by the United Nations, which speaks to the larger social deprivation present on the continent and signified by the many African countries represented in the UN’s Least Developed Countries (LDC).
Akinwumi Adesina Nigeria’s agricultural minister became the first Nigerian to assume the helm of the Bank, ,many firsts for Nigeria recently it became Africa’s largest economy overtaking South Africa, President Buhari became the first Nigerian to oust a sitting president through the ballot box, and the African Development Bank elected its first Nigeria’s, fitting It was 50 years ago this year in 1964 that the inaugural meeting of the Board of Governors of the African Development Bank convened in Lagos, Nigeria.
On this golden anniversary of the bank, It is certainly with all the hope in the world that Akinwumi Adesina can build on previous achievements and usher in new prospective to deal with adversarial problems confronting the continent and help it attain its much desired sustainable developmental goals.
Africa has to move beyond relying on commodities and concentrate moving up the value chain, dependence on the fluctuating primary commodities as export cannot suffice any longer. Investment to develop the human capital of the continent as half of Africa’s nearly one billion population are younger than the 20 years.
The new president must carry on the bank’s mandate to integrate African economies, and find new ways to fund infrastructure, it must garner the much needed financing from the international markets for its infrastructure developments by further continuing to strengthening the political democratization already taking foothold on the continent, only with greater transparency and stability can it reassure investors and secure the much needed funds. Regional integration must bet the priority in its infrastructure projects as regional economic blocks will be the only way for intra-trade between member countries and the path to a more robust economic footing for Africa.
In this golden anniversary of the African Development Bank’s the outgoing president who spearheaded Africa’s premier development institution in the last decade hands over a AAA-rated Bank , with billions in capital and this is a Salute to him.
Geleh Ali Marshal