National bank governors from across East and North Africa gathered at the headquarters of the African Development Bank this month to discuss the continent’s economic challenges, while the bank made a number of management appointments.
At a series of meetings earlier this month, African Development Bank (AfDB) president Akinwumi Adesina and bank governors from East and North Africa highlighted the need for development on the continent, in order to keep pace with the current rate of population growth. They addressed concerns over keeping up with an ever-growing youth population, which has led to rises in unemployment despite economic growth across the continent.
The meetings followed a promise made by Adesina at last year’s annual meetings, held in India, to forge closer ties with bank governors across the region.
Meeting attendees highlighted that Africa’s development as a whole will aid in achieving job creation, working to solve what many of them see as Africa’s primary developmental challenge. “Jobs will come from industrialisation. The new approach using the African Investment Forum to de-risk the sector and attract investors is the way to go,” said Kenyan Finance Minister Kiplagat Rotich.
Further stressing this point was Tunisia’s Development, Investment and International Cooperation Minister Zied Ladhari, who stated: “This is a great Africa moment with the bank at the centre. Unleashing the potential of African economies is a task which the bank must accomplish”.
Governors pointed to the AfDB’s decentralisation work, which is bringing it closer to its member countries and hopefully spurring their economic growth.
The urgent need for development was highlighted by the situation in North Africa, which houses 14% of the continent’s population and drives a third of its GDP, yet has a 31% unemployment rate among young people and women.
Algerian Finance Minister Abderahmane Raouia said: “The biggest challenge for Africa today is job creation. It is a stake of stability and a lever to pull economic growth upwards. We must offer job opportunities for young people to convince them to stay here on the continent.”
The need to develop industrialisation, investment and employment were recurrent messages from the meetings. Sustained growth will aid not only Africa but also the world, according to Adesina: “If Africa does not achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs), the world won’t achieve them.”
The AfDB is keen for these developments to tie in with its 10-year goals, which it calls ‘High 5s’: to light up and power Africa; feed Africa; industrialise Africa; integrate Africa and improve the quality of life for people in Africa.
Primary concerns addressed through the High 5s include keeping pace with Africa’s youth population boom, closing the infrastructure gap across the continent, ensuring peace and security, and creating jobs. The bank has announced plans to make regional consultations an annual event, with the aim of aiding development reform across Africa through closer regional integration.
Meanwhile, the bank has overhauled its leadership, with a series of senior management appointments.
The new additions are led by Egyptian macro-economic and public policy expert Hanan Morsy, whose hire took effect on 12 March, as director of AfDB’s macroeconomic forecasting and research department. Morsy has expertise in the private sector and in international financial institutions.
Prior to joining AfDB she was lead economist for the southern and eastern Mediterranean region at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London, where she had been since 2012.
Within the bank, Olivier Eweck has been promoted to be the new director of AfDB’s syndication and technical services department, having had 18 years of experience in financial and capital markets. He was previously manager of the financial technical services division, in which capacity he was responsible for product innovations, marketing the bank’s local currency funding initiatives, originating funding requirements in African currencies and executing funding programs.
Wambui Gichuri has also joined one of the bank’s specialist divisions, hired as director of water development and sanitation on 15 March from the World Bank, where she gained extensive leadership and management experience in the water sector.
As water practice manager of the Africa region at the World Bank, she was responsible for managing a water portfolio including sanitation, supply and resource management, as well as being responsible for leading sector strategy.
Two more promotions came in the Africa Investment Forum and regional integration departments, where Stella Kilonzo and Moono Mupotola will have broad.
Kilonzo began as senior director on 1 March, and has 17 years of experience in the financial sector handling capital markets, risk management, development finance and corporate finance advising. Prior to AfDB she undertook a variety of executive and advisory roles within the financial sector. Once at AfDB she helped its High 5 agenda by directing mortgage finance lending operations.
Mupotola has assumed a role as director of regional integration, with over 20 years of expertise in regional integration across Africa and having provided leadership and strategic oversight for AfDB’s trade and regional integration agenda through supporting research, infrastructure projects and the reform of regulations and policies.
The bank made a previous round of management changes in 2016, when it took on a new secretary general, Vincent Nmehielle,as well as Héléne N’Garnim-Ganga as general counsel and Ismaila Dieng as the new director of communications and external relations.