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Adesina on course for AfDB’s presidency

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Akinwumi Adesina

ON May 28, the eve of the country’s transition to a new political leadership, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwumi Adesina may emerge the President of African Development Bank (AfDB), going by his current rating among other top candidates for the plum job.

Other candidates jostling to replace Dr. Donald Kaberuka include the President, MED Confederation, Tunisia, Jaloul Ayed; Minister of Finance and Budget, Chad, Kordje Bedoumra; and Minister of Finance and Planning, Cape Verde, Christina Duarte.

Other top contenders are Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Sierra Leone, Samura M. W. Kamara; Former Vice President of Country and Regional Programmes, AfDB, Zimbabwe, Thomas Z. Sakala; and Mali’s Vice President of the Islamic Development Bank in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Birama Boubacar Sidibe. Nigeria’s Chief Bisi Ogunjobi lost out to Kaberuka for the job in 2005.

One of the current vice-presidents of the bank, Dr. Mthuli Ncube had shown interest in the position but the ambition was cut short as his country, South Africa, indicated that it would not nominate a candidate this year. Already, the candidates have been scheduled to face a panel on April 16 at the Center for Global Development in Washington, D.C., to further assess their respective eligibilities for the job.

The candidates are expected to be quizzed on a range of important issues related to the bank’s future, the challenges it faces, and how their leadership would benefit this important institution. The new AfDB’s boss is expected to emerge at the bank’s yearly general meeting on May 28, at the end of Kaberuka’s two five-year terms.

Regarded as a world class scholar, Adesina holds a PhD degree in Agricultural Economics from Purdue University (USA).He is currently the Vice President (Policy and Partnerships) for the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), an organization established with support from the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with the goal of bringing a green revolution to Africa, and lifting millions of poor farmers out of poverty and food insecurity.

He has over 20 years of experience in African agriculture, development policy and rural development. He won the Rockefeller Foundation Social Science Research Fellowship in 1988, which initiated his career in international agricultural development.

He has worked in senior research positions in international agricultural research centres of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research.
 The minister joined the Rockefeller Foundation, New York, as a senior scientist for Africa in 1998 and later served as Rockefeller Foundation representative for Southern Africa, based in Harare, Zimbabwe (1999-2003).

Adesina was a lead organiser of the Africa Fertilizer Summit for African heads of state in 2006 and was instrumental in framing the soil health policies adopted there by over 40 African governments, the African Union the New Partnership of African Development (NEPAD), and other leading global development institutions.

In July 2007, he received the YARA Prize for the African Green Revolution in Oslo for his pioneering work with agricultural inputs and agro-dealer networks in Africa.
 In 2008, he was honoured with Purdue University’s College of Agriculture Distinguished Agricultural Alumni Award, for his inspiring leadership in spearheading transformative change in African agriculture.

In 2009, Adesina was appointed into the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Advocacy Group that will drive the rapid achievement of the Goals across the globe. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon described him as an “eminent personality’’ who had shown outstanding leadership in promoting the implementation of the MDGs.

Kaberuka is viewed as a very successful president and it is therefore instructive that whoever is elected to succeed him would have to live up to very high expectations. The bank almost shut down after losing its AAA credit rating in 1995. Omar Kabbaj became its President that same year and tightened controls to regain the AAA status.

Kaberuka took over in 2005, and the bank made a dramatic turn-around by refocusing on the core needs of its member countries and re-strategizing.

Under his tenure, the AfDB has collaborated and often competed with other multilaterals like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, working hard to make itself relevant to and ahead in Africa’s economic, social and political development.

The bank operates under the leadership of the President, who serves as its legal representative, the Chairmab of the board of directors and the Chief of Staff . The bank invests about $8 billion yearly into Africa’s economy.


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