AFDB President Donald Kaberuka is bowing out to a standing ovation

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VENTURES AFRICA – At the recently concluded World Bank/International Monetary Fund Annual Spring Summit, African Development Bank (AfDB) President Donald Kaberuka received significant laurels for the giant contributions he made alleviating extreme poverty on the continent during his time at the helm of the Bank’s affairs.

With the adoption of an agenda to eliminate extreme poverty around the world by 2030, the summit, which held in Washington DC, came to an end. It would be the last for Mr Kaberuka. It significant as it had Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in attendance for the first time.

During the summit, World Bank Group President Jim Kim hosted a ceremony for the outgoing AfDB President, reiterating that his dedication to infrastructure development in Africa helped pave a way forward for the continent’s 54 countries. The event was graced by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, President Alpha Condé of , Ministers of Finance and other leaders in the development space. “Truly some people are hard acts to follow and he is of them. He has lifted the AfDB very high and it is our hope that African countries will be responsible enough to find a successor will maintain the level that he has reached,” President Condé remarked.

Liberian President Sirleaf reflected on Kaberuka’s tireless work during the crisis, noting that he wasn’t afraid to physically visit the affected countries in order to get a first-hand assessment of the situation.  “Mr. Donald Kaberuka stands out in his leadership. A leadership that motivates; one that had a calling in the vision that he established for the transformation of the African continent.”

During his time at the AfDB – which lasted a decade – Kaberuka maintained infrastructure development as a top priority. This, the Sierra Leonean President Koroma was prompt to acknowledge. “We will remember him for many things, but most importantly for his emphasis on infrastructure. We are indeed very grateful to him because we know the impact was great on our economies.”

Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, also praised Kaberuka for promoting gender equality, inclusion and creating gender sensitive policies across Africa.  “I am very grateful to him for this. One of Donald’s most applauded achievements to date is the physical repositioning of the Bank, taking it back to Abidjan, its original home base. Today, we toast this Son of Africa for a stellar performance over the last 10 years at the helm of this great regional institution.”

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The fight against poverty is on

Throughout last week, Kabreuka had consistently delivered targeted messages to heads of multilateral development banks, political leaders and other financial and economic power players regarding AfDB’s commitment to eradicating extreme poverty within Africa. He also emphasized the importance of stemming illicit flows; creating a single market system for the continent and helping Africa’s 54 countries mobilize internal resources.   “Unlike the Millennium Development Goals, which assumed that a large part of the financing would be from outside, this time around, the African position is totally from the opposite end. We have a responsibility to fund our own development. That requires good policies; it requires capacity,” he stressed.

Kaberuka continues to demonstrate a significant passion for the fight against poverty. Before joining the AfDB, he had served as the Rwandan Minister of Finance where he oversaw the country’s successful reconstruction after its brutal civil war.

According to him, boosting trade investment and development in Africa while reducing poverty requires that the Bank remains resolutely focused on three crucial tasks: supporting countries that want to fund development from within, helping the continent mobilize its own resources, and bypassing the continent’s colonial heritage and developing a single market system.



By Emmanuel Iruobe