PERSONALITY OF THE WEEK: Jibran Qureishi - Daily Nation

Jibran debunks myths about African economies

Friday October 12 2018

Stanbic Bank East Africa regional economist Jibran Qureshi.

Stanbic Bank East Africa regional economist Jibran Qureshi during an interview at Stanbic Bank Offices in Westlands, Nairobi, on August 31, 2018. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Jibran Qureishi is currently the Regional East Africa Economist at Stanbic Bank. He is part of a larger team conducting macroeconomic research on African countries, aimed at identifying potentially profitable trading opportunities in the growing African Eurobond market.

Through formulating macroeconomic research, Jibran provides insights to investors, senior bank management and policymakers. He was rated the top analyst for Sub-Saharan Africa excluding South Africa in the prestigious Financial Mail awards in 2016.

Why did you choose a career as an economist?

In school, my father wanted me to study accounting. I however excelled in economics and just found the subject relevant to life.

I spoke to career counsellors who gave me a clearer vision into what a career in economics looks like. I also went to university at a time when there was a global financial meltdown so everything I studied in university was quite relatable.

I was at the University of Kent for both my undergraduate and graduate courses, where I studied economics and econometrics in undergrad and economics and finance at graduate level.

At the time though, I never really saw myself as an economist working for a bank but here I am.

My work gives me a lot of satisfaction as I get to debunk myths about African economies and contribute to their development.

There is typically a lot of noise about economies in the region and we tend to help investors read in-between the lines and avoid viewing the continent as a homogenous block in order to identify opportunities.

Which other profession would you be into if you were not an economist? Why?

This is a hard one. I am a movie buff; I enjoy analysing films (definitely NOT sci-fi or rom-coms!) the same way I analyse economies so I would probably be a scriptwriter or a producer/director, probably the documentary type. Who knows, I still may produce something on the African economy in the near future.

We keep reading about the heavy debt Kenya is in. What is the effect of this to our economy?

When we get ourselves into debt for borrowing for something like infrastructure, the argument normally is that the debt can be repaid by the returns from the said infrastructure.

The challenge here would be ensuring that the infrastructure will boost export earnings, increase employment and improve productivity. If this is not happening, then we need to question the infrastructure that we are spending on and re-assess whether it would be justified to accumulate external debt for it.

I would go with reducing our expenditure by taming our spending appetite. Authorities also need to reassess projects and ensure that public investment has a positive spin on exports and jobs. It’s all about setting priorities right or else, hard-working tax payers will feel the pain.

What was the most difficult undergraduate study unit for you?

A unit called financial econometrics. It reappeared in my masters as advanced financial econometrics. I got panic attacks, got sick and sometimes even threw up