Banking on Africa: the examples of Kaberuka and Sinon
By Raynard Jackson
Special to USAfrica, USAfricaonline.com and The Black Business Journal, Houston
The overwhelming images most Americans see on U.S. media about Africa is that of famine, war, or other tragedies. But, with a little effort, another view of Africa begins to emerge.
Before the final weekend of September 2009, I had the honor of spending a few days with the Peter Sinon, Executive Director of the African Development Bank. You can hear my interview with him on my radio show (www.ustalknetwork.com).
The goal of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group is to create sustainable economic development and social progress in its regional member countries (RMCs), thereby helping to reduce poverty. This is achieved by mobilizing and allocating resources for investment in RMCs & providing policy advice and technical assistance to support development efforts.
The bank contributes to the financing of road construction, building of dams, or the financing of mining projects. The bank also helps to fund the operational budget of a particular country. The bank might also partner with the World Bank to promote trade and investment liberalization and the privatization of state-owned companies, thereby creating local jobs.
According to the bank’s website, “The major rating agencies Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s, Fitch and the Japanese Credit Rating Agency have assigned a triple-A rating on AfDB long term senior debt and double A-plus on its subordinated debt. The outlook on all the ratings are stable and reflect the Bank’s strong membership support, healthy capital adequacy, preferred creditor status and strong financial condition.” How many stories about this have you seen on the U.S. news? I understand that the AfDB is still considered a small player on the continent in the area of finance (they provide about 6% of total development assistance on the continent, about U.S. $ 3 billion annually). But, their goal is not to compete with the World Bank (one of the dominant players on the continent).
Interviewing Mr. Sinon made me more aware of the role and mission of the bank and optimistic about Africa’s future. He is more than just another highly trained economist. He clearly understands that economic theories must be practical and able to provide measurable change in the lives of people.
Mr. Sinon also sang the praises of the bank’s president, Mr. Donald Kaberuka, the former Finance Minister of Rwanda. He was elected president in 2005 and is up for reelection next year (he is expected to win another 5 year term). He has brought much needed vision and focus to the bank and under his leadership, the bank is playing a much larger role on the continent.
Under Mr. Kaberuka’s leadership, the bank expects its investments in 2009 to double with commitments amounting to around US $ 11 billion from US $ 5.8 billion last year.
Last Monday he rang the closing bell on Wall Street. Afterword he gave the keynote address at the Africa Investor Index Series Summit and Awards at the exchange. He also attended the 2009 Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative; spoke at the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh, and participated in a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.
I think Mr. Kaberuka and the bank should plan a program in the U.S. that would allow him to educate Americans about the bank and its role in the development of Africa. This program should have a media component with majority & ethnic newspapers, TV programs, radio programs and include several speeches at universities and professional financial organizations such as the National Associating of Black Money Managers.
Mr. Kaberuka has a great story to tell. Under his leadership, that bank is investing larger amounts on the continent, becoming more influential, becoming more focused, and being recognized as a well run organization. He can’t expect the images coming out of Africa to change on its own. He must become more aggressive about championing the successes of his bank. That will require him to become more media savvy.
With Keberuka and Sinon, I think their organization is something that the continent of African can bank on.
•Raynard Jackson, contributing writer for USAfricaonline.com, is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a D.C.-based political consulting/government affairs firm. Published on USAfricaonline.com on October 1, 2009