Sufian Ahmed, Ethiopia’s long serving Minister of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED), was among the six likely candidates whose names surfaced during the recently concluded annual summit of the African Development Bank (AfDB) as a potential candidate to run for the presidency of the African Development Bank (AfDB) group.
Donald Kaberuka, the current President of the Bank, will be leaving his post of the last ten years by the end of this year. The other candidates expected to run for the top job include: Birma Boubacar Sidibe, Vice President of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), Samura Kamara, Sierra Leoone’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jalloul Ayed, Tunisia’s former Minister of Finance, Kordje Bedoumra, Chad’s Minister of Finance, and Akinwumi Adesina, Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Big shoes to fill
Donald Kaberuka is a Glasgow educated economist who was the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning for eight years from 1997 to 2005 in his native Rwanda and is globally credited for stabilizing the Rwandan economy in post 1994 genocide that deprived his country of its finest academicians, as well as its ordinary citizens.
In July 2005 Donald Kaberuka was elected president of AfDB and took office the next September. Under his leadership the pan-African institution, which will celebrate its 50th year Golden jubilee come November, was in 2013, rated “Aaa/Prime-1, with a stable outlook,” by Moody’s, which further said, “The Bank’s ratings reflect a combination of its intrinsic financial strength, prudent financial management and policies and very strong shareholder support.”
This is despite the bank operating from exile starting from two years prior to the coming of Donald Kaberuka as its president. AfDB moved its headquarters to Tunis, Tunisia, in 2003 following the civil war in Cote d’Ivoire, where it was housed since it was first established.
In 2012 Donald Kaberuka announced the first group of staff will begin returning to Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s second-largest city, by the end of the year. “The AfDB will celebrate its 50th anniversary in November 2014 in Abidjan,” Kaberuka said in a statement.
Donald Kaberuka hosted the Bank’s annual summit, his last, in his country Rwanda in the third week of May this year and reassured the Ivorian government when he told his audience, “there is no doubt in my mind, and yours, that the safe return to Abidjan is the most important undertaking for us in the next year.”
In his position for more than 20 years, Sufian Ahmed is known to many as a ‘veteran’ who supervised his country’s finance through thick and thin. He is also credited for brining a galloping inflation that had picked a high of more than 50% in the aftermath of the 2005 disputed election to its current single digit. He is also the man who has helped Ethiopia achieve the double digit economic growth that put the country as one of the top five non-oil producing fast growing economies in the continent.
However, Sufian is known to many as a non-socializing individual and lacking in his grip of continent-wide dynamics of socio-political affairs. His lack of other languages widely used in the continent, particularly French, one of the working languages of the bank, is also considered a big minus for his candidacy if he decided to put through his name when the nomination for the post will be formally tendered this July.
Sufian holds bachelor’s degree in economics and master’s degree in economic development and planning from the country’s grand university, the Addis Ababa University (AAU).
Along with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the Inter-American Development Bank (IAfDB), the Asian Development Bank (AsDB), and the World Bank (WB) AfDB brings the number of multinational development banks in the world to five.
Photo: Flickr/Sifian Ahmed file