Dr Akinwumi Adesina, a national of Nigeria, is the new president of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB).
His election as the bank’s eight president signals the exit of Dr Donald Kaberuka, who completes his second and last term at the helm of Africa’s most notable multilateral development finance institution on August 31.
Accordilngly, Dr Adesina assumes office at AfDB’s head office in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, for his first term of five years on September 1.
The rules governing the election of the AfDB president require that the Bank holds the event during the Annual Meetings closest to the end of the term of office of the serving President. This year’s meetings have been going on in Abidjan from May 25, and end May 29.
“Africa’s future is huge,” Adesina announced as he delivered his brief acceptance speech, both in English and French. “I will not let you down. We will make Africa to be the pride of the world,” he vowed amid cheers in a packed conference hall at Abidjan’s pristine Sofitel Hotel d’Ivoire.
The AfDB president serves as the chief of staff of the bank and the chairperson of the Board of Directors. It is a powerful position, given the institution’s huge mandate to finance development in Africa and promote sustainable economic and social progress.
The intense last round of lobbying and quiet campaigning that the eight contestants have engaged in in the past three days in Abidjan, where the bank is hosting its 2015 Annual Meetings, signify the importance of the position.
LEGAL POWERS TO ELECT
Every fifth year, the highlight of the annual event is the election of a new president. The election, done by the bank’s topmost governing body – the Board of Governors – is conducted behind closed doors. Only the governors have the legal powers to elect the bank’s president.
The Board of Governors is made up of representatives of the member states, usually ministers for finance, planning or central bank governors, or their duly designated alternates. Kenya’s minister for finance and planning, Henry Rotich, has been here to fulfil that purpose.
The AfDB president serves a five-year term, renewable once, again through elections.
The outgoing President, Dr Donald Kaberuka, a national of Rwanda and former finance minister in the country, was elected in July 2005 and commenced his first term on September 1, 2005. He was re-elected for his second and final term in May 2010, and commenced his the term on September 1 the same year.
Dr Adesina, 55, is an agricultural economist and graduate of Purdue University (USA) and the University of Life (Nigeria). He is the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He will now leave the government job to take up office as AfDB president.
In the vision statement he presented as a candidate for the AfDB top job, Dr Adesina had stated: “My vision is to help build a new Africa with prosperous, sustainable and inclusive growth; one that is peaceful, secure and united, regionally integrated and globally competitive.
A continent filled with hope, opportunities, liberties and freedom, with shared prosperity for all; an Africa that is open to the world, one that Africans are proud to call home.”
His declaration today that he will make Africa the pride of the world appears to reiterate the vision statement.
Dr Kaberuka leaves office having led the institution for two terms in a 10-year period in which the continent also generally registered sustained economic progress.
According to the African Economic Outlook 2015 released here on May 25, the continent’s economies will on average grow by 4.5 per cent in 2015, and by about five per cent in 2016. Economic growth has been the general narrative about Africa, even in the recent times of global economic downturn.
“When I assumed office in 2005, Africa was at a turning point, beginning to reverse years of decline, registering positive real per capita GDP growth in almost two decades. Human development indicators were improving.
There was a dramatic decline in infant mortality and wide availability of anti-retroviral drugs. Yet, it is now also evident that translating economic growth into economic transformation; to create jobs, had only just begun,” said Dr Kaberuka on May 26, during the official opening ceremony of the 2015 Annual Meetings.
The speech was, in effect, a reflection of his tenure hand a welcoming note at the same time.
He therefore ultimately said: “To my incoming successor, my very best wishes. Ten years goes by very quickly. It is a complex and merciless job, but very exciting. It is, in fact, not a job, but a mission. It is the fire in the belly that will see you overcome the many inevitable moments of frustration.
We are preparing a well-designed transition for your smooth landing and to allow you to hit the ground running.”
Following today’s (May 28) elections of a new bank president, this message applies to Dr Adesina. He won the election with a total vote of 58.1 per cent. The requirement is a total of 50.01 per cent.
He was followed by Chad’s Minister for Finance and Budget, Kordje Bedoumra, a civil and telecommunications engineer. Bedoumra secured a total vote of 36.63 per cent. The only woman in the race, Cristina Duarte, the Minister for Finance and Planning in Cape Verde, registered 10.27 per cent of the votes.
The remaining five candidates were knocked out one by one in the earlier rounds of the vote, which had to go six rounds before Dr Adesina was declared the winner.
They were Sufian Ahmed, Minister of Finance and Economic Development of Ethiopia; Tunisia’s Jaloul Ayed, a former minister of finance; and Samura Kamara, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
The others were Zimbabwean Thomas Sakala, a former vice-president of AfDB responsible for Country and Regional Programmes; and Birama Sidibe from Mali and vice-president of the Islamic Development Bank, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
UTILITY NOTES: PAST PRESDIDENTS OF THE AfDB
Mamoun Beheiry (Sudan)
November 1967 - August 1970
Abdelwahad Labidi (Tunisia)
August 1970 - May 1976
Kwame Donkor Fordwor (Ghana)
May 1976 - July 1979
Wila D. Mungomba (Zambia)
June 1980 - May 1985
Babacar Ndiaye (Senegal)
May 1985 - August 1995
Omar Kabbaj (Morocco)
August 1995 - August 2005