Interview with African Leadership Institute Fellow, Jacqueline Chimhanzi

28/03/2011
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Jacqueline Chimhanzi

“The Bank has demonstrated agility and resilience in dealing with the challenges of being in a temporary relocation agency, having to be all things to all people, managing a diverse group of stakeholders in a rapidly changing political environment and supporting several countries that have uncertain futures.” - Jacqueline Chimhanzi.

Question: During your (AfLI) meeting with AfDB President, Donald Kaberuka, he stressed the role the youth should play in meeting the current political and economic development challenges in the continent. What are you doing in this regard?

Answer: In my professional capacity, I head the Deloitte Consulting Africa Strategy Desk in Johannesburg assisting clients to access opportunities across the continent. On my return to South Africa, tomorrow, for example, I will make a presentation to a group of 15 Swedish investors wanting to understand the investment opportunities and associated risks in Africa and how to navigate the landscape in terms of market opportunity identification and quantification and market entry strategy. 

Sweden, traditionally, has had an aid-donor relationship with Africa through organisations such as SIDA so the new focus on Africa as an investment location marks a paradigm shift in how they will interface and engage with Africa, going forward.  I am a strong believer in letting the private sector flourish.  It is a win-win situation: Africa offers investors the highest returns anywhere in the world and in turn, Africa is better off for the investment be it in infrastructure or telecoms on condition, though, that the deal is well negotiated.  While at the Bank, we learnt of the Africa Legal Facility so in my dealings with foreign investors, I will be sure to refer the African parties to this facility for assistance.

I also sit on two boards: New Faces New Voices and the African Leadership Institute (AfLI). While Africa is making gains, I am convinced that development could be even more accelerated by involving more women and more young people.  As an AfLI board member, I am committed to the institute’s vision of developing a critical mass of young African leaders while NFNV, under the leadership and patronage of Mrs Graca Machel, advocates for innovatively investing in African women so that they are financially empowered to meaningfully contribute to the sustainable development of Africa.  NFNV is grateful to the Bank as a key partner in its efforts.

Question: What lessons did you draw from your meetings with AfDB’s management and experts?

Answer: From the outside, the AfDB is sometimes seen as an institution that moves slowly and operates over-bureaucratically. But having the privilege to sit in a Senior Management Meeting provided an opportunity to see the Bank as an institution that is professional, dynamic and business-like.  I was impressed by the Bank’s incredible ability to operate in a time of change and crisis and make tough choices. The Bank has demonstrated agility and resilience in dealing with the challenges of being in a temporary relocation agency, having to be all things to all people, managing a diverse group of stakeholders in a rapidly changing political environment and supporting several countries that have uncertain futures.  The Bank will, therefore, need to do more on its external communications - so that more people, rightly, recognise its important role as the preferred partner.  The Bank should also forge more partnerships with CSOs and work with drivers of change across the continent – institutions that are on the ground and are close to the intended beneficiaries of the Bank’s programmes.  Finally, the Bank should do more to leverage its key assets, the most important of which is its relationships with and role as an intermediary between public and private sector actors.

From Dr Kaberuka’s interactions with the Fellows, I observed certain leadership traits:  firstly, his can-do attitude and the will to make things happen. Secondly, his openness and humility to want to learn from the Fellows.  Finally, he is a visionary – he invited us to the Bank and has now requested a task force be put into place to explore how an AfLI/AfDB partnership could look like.  He has committed these resources only because he has already visualized synergies to be explored and potential outcomes.