Founded five decades ago, the African Development Bank (AfDB), a multilateral development finance institution established to contribute to the economic development and social progress of African countries, has risen to play a very prominent role in Africa’s success story. Since 2005, it has been steered by its incumbent President Donald Kaberuka who has served a dual tenure of five years each. As his tenure comes to an end in May, it is useful to examine the stock from which his replacement will be elected.

As was the case in 2005, there are currently seven candidates who will be contending for the top job. These include; Akinwumi Adesina, Agriculture and Rural Development Minister of Nigeria; Ato Ahmed, Finance and Economic Development Minister of Ethiopia; Birama Sidibe, Vice President of Operations at the Islamic Development Bank; Jalloul Ayed, Economist and former Finance Minister of Tunisia; Kordje Bedoumra, Finance Minister of Chad and former Vice President of Corporate Services at AfDB; Mthuli Ncube, Chief Economist and Vice President at AfDB; and Samura Kamara, Foreign Minister of Sierra Leone. This list is expected to increase as the end of the current tenure approaches.

Following President Kaberuka’s sterling decade-long performance, his successor will have incredibly huge shoes to fill. Kaberuka has been accredited with successfully improving the bank’s profile as a leading development institution, introducing procurement reforms and boosting transparency. Recently, he was awarded the Forbes Africa Lifetime Achievement Award during the annual awards ceremony in Kenya.

Receiving the award, his statement read; “Anything I have achieved in my ten year stint at the helm of this great Bank has been achieved with their (the bank staff of about 2,000) unfailing support, skill and dedication.”

“As I look back on my time in the service of Africa at the African Development Bank. I know we are winning, but we have not won yet. Leadership will take us to the goal, and I salute the many of you tonight who are leaders. Your followers constitute the youngest and most dynamic population in the world. Africa has shown that it is a place of immense opportunity for its young people,” he added.

The next President will also have challenges to grapple with, however. The AfDB is likely face competition for influence in Africa from emerging players like China even though both entities have agreed to cooperate through a recent China-AfDB fund. The bank is also set to move back to Abidjan after a decade of staying in Tunis, this transition will require strong leadership at the helm.

Lastly, Africa, as a whole, still faces structural gaps in infrastructure and security, and the bank will have to take ownership for galvanizing the coalition of investments and private-public sector collaborations that will remedy this.

As the month of May approaches, campaigns are expected to gear up as African governments make moves to ensure the selection of their candidate.



By Emmanuel Iruobe