Thursday, 28 May 2015

In Kaberuka's footsteps

The new President of the African Development Bank, who was being elected as we went to press, will face harsh financial and political conditions after a decade of economic growth on the continent averaging 5-7% a year. Outgoing AfDB President Donald Kaberuka combined a capacity for strict financial management with experience in government and strong views on development.

Kaberuka’s successor will struggle to match his record as commodity prices slump and security crises plague some of Africa’s biggest economies, such as Egypt, Kenya, Libya and Nigeria. The AfDB’s Chief Economist, Steve Kayuzzi-Mugerwa, agrees with the World Bank’s and International Monetary Fund’s lowered forecasts for African growth of 4.5% this year.

Growing private investment raises new questions about the AfDB’s role. Kaberuka presided over a tenfold expansion of its private sector operations. He was also sharply critical of IMF and World Bank policy in Africa. This year in Addis Ababa, Kaberuka praised the decision by Ethiopia’s late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to disregard advice from the Bretton Woods Institutions in favour of adapting policies from fast-growing Asian economies, such as China and South Korea. Asia’s rising economic power also raises more questions about the role of the World Bank and even the AfDB, at a time when China is setting up development banks for Asia and the BRICS group (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).

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