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The African Development Bank (AfDB) is widely praised these days as one of the premier financial institutions in Africa. The past decade saw it place much greater emphasis on infrastructure financing, a change brought about in part by the instincts of its former president Donald Kaberuka. He enjoyed two highly successful terms at the helm from 2005-2015, handing over the reins last September to Dr Akinwumi Adesina, Nigeria’s Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development (CGD played a role in the AfDB election process, with a high profile panel event for candidates in April).
In this week's podcast, Donald Kaberuka discusses how the AfDB’s success came about. "I think my biggest achievement – not me alone, but all of us at the bank – was to focus the institution," Kaberuka tells me, explaining in the clip below: "It was I think the first time when an organization of this size was able to say, 'There are many things to be done, but this is what I'll do, and do it well.'"
Back in 2006, Todd Moss and Dennis de Tray led a small CGD working group that produced an admirably short and clear report on the future direction of the African Development Bank. It contained six recommendations including a heavy emphasis on infrastructure, and I count it as one of our most important reports; it echoed the recently appointed AfDB President Donald Kaberuka’s own instincts for change, and we like to think it helped him bring his shareholders and senior managers along in strengthening the new directions in which he subsequently took the bank.
Fast forward almost ten years: the AfDB is now widely seen as Africa’s top financial and technical institution serving the continent, Donald Kaberuka is an old friend of CGD, and I’m delighted that he is joining CGD as a distinguished visiting fellow, having recently completed two extraordinarily successful terms as AfDB president.
Kaberuka is currently a Hauser Leader-in-Residence at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. At CGD he will be working on finance and development issues, including serving as a member of our High-Level Panel on Multilateral Banking, which will issue its report in the coming months.
At our 10th anniversary celebration in 2011, we awarded Kaberuka the Edward W. Scott Jr. Equity Award for distinguished service in the interests of the world’s most vulnerable people (perhaps we sensed back then what a friend he would become). Kaberuka joined the CGD board this year.
Hear Kaberuka’s thoughts on his presidency and his future work in a new CGD podcast. And look out for a whole series of events this year to mark CGD’s 15th anniversary!
Donald Kaberuka, the new president of the African Development Bank, leads an institution whose financial standing has been restored from the near collapse of 1995, but whose operational credibility remains a work-in-progress. This CGD working group report offers external, independent advice to Kaberuka and the Bank's board of directors on broad principles to guide the Bank’s renewal. The report contains six bold yet achievable recommendations for management and shareholders as they address the urgent task of reforming Africa's development bank. Prominent among the recommendations is a strong focus on infrastructure.