Seven aspirants for the position of President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) have put across strong substantive ideas on how they will manage the bank if appointed.

They are Akinwumi Adesina from Nigeria, Dr Jaloul Ayed from Tunisia, Dr Kordje Bedoumra from Chad, Dr Cristina Duarte from Cape Verde, Dr Samura Kamara from Sierra Leone, Dr Thomas Sakala from Zimbabwe and Dr Birama Boubacar Sidibe from Mali.

An eighth aspirant, Sufian Ahmed, an Ethiopian, was absent at the debate held in Washington DC, USA, and beamed live at the conference hall of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) in Accra.

All eight aspirants are serving, or have served as finance ministers or central bank governors of their respective countries.

Some current and former ministers of state, members of the diplomatic corps, heads of public and private institutions were present to watch the debate.

The AfDB elects its next President on May 28, this year.

The successful candidate will succeed Mr Donald Kaberuka, a Rwandan economist who has served two five-year terms and is, therefore, ineligible to be re-appointed

This is the first time candidates for the position of AfDB President have debated issues on television.  
The debate

Dr Kamara said what the AfDB could do under his leadership was to strengthen parliamentary oversight of the public purse and the utilisation of funds in member countries and help establish strong transparency and accountability systems.

Dr Duarte expressed similar views saying transparency was the primary responsibility of the country receiving financial assistance from the AfDB.

She said the bank, under her leadership, would, however, develop a monitoring and evaluation system to guide the granting of loans.

Dr Adesina said the bank needed to build a strong integrity system both within it and in its member countries.

On what major projects he would implement if appointed, Dr Sakala said he would increase funding for infrastructural projects, foster regional integration, support private-sector development in member countries, promote agriculture and the participation of women in governance.

Dr Ayed said he would champion reforms in the financial sector in Africa  and lay emphasis on the promotion of culture, gender activities and assist “fragile” states to stand on their feet.

Dr Bedoumra indicated that he would collaborate with institutions which promote regional integration, support activities aimed at regional integration and promote the empowerment of women.

Security and peace in all regions of the continent, he said, would be one of his major goals.

On Africa’s relations with China, Dr Sidibe said it was the responsibility of the continent to ensure that the state of connectedness between the two inured to the benefit of Africa.

In his view, any funding from China should come in the form of investment on the continent.

Dr Adesine said Africa needed to trade with China on its own terms and that under his leadership, he would ensure that social and environmental safeguards were put in place by China as it engaged in economic activities on the continent.

Dr Kamara said China needed to understand multilateralism and how to operate in an international financial system.