Brokering better global development: Kaberuka at the helm of the AfDB

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A landmark global development agenda was worked out last week in Washington, DC and African Development Bank Group (AfDB) President Donald Kaberuka was at the centre of the conversation. From pledging US $300 million in added funding to fight Ebola, to helping define the global development agenda, Kaberuka spread the word to the world on Friday that the Bank is positioned to help.

“At AfDB we do about $3 billion a year in financing for the private sector. So, we understand risk, we can mitigate for it,” he told heads of international development organizations, governments, the private sector and civil society. Kaberuka delivered his message on Friday, April 17 during a panel discussion called “Changing the Conversation on Development Finance.” It was hosted by the World Bank as part of the World Bank/International Monetary Fund Annual Spring Meetings.

He was joined by leaders including World Bank Group President Jim Kim, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Nigeria’s Minister of Finance Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Executive Director of Save the Children Justin Forsythe, Vice Chairman of General Electric Company John Rice, and others. The conversation focused on the latest thinking on domestic resource mobilization and how to best leverage the private sector to build financial mechanisms, solutions and initiatives that go far beyond filling financing gaps.

Ahead of the third International Conference on Financing for Development set for later this summer in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Kaberuka told the panel, “We need to think of things which have worked very well in the public sector and in the private sector” and bring those examples to the table in July.

Kaberuka shared his own example earlier Friday at a forum put on by Global Financial Integrity, a Washington-based non-profit that works to stem illicit financial flows. He told a group of chief economists, political advisors, Central Bank Governors and others that as Finance Minister of Rwanda “we started a program to build an independent revenue service, or VAT, and I tell you this thing has worked miracles.” He said, “Since I’ve been with the Bank (AfDB), I’ve been trying to do this for many counties in Africa.” Currently, the Bank is working with Togo, Liberia and Swaziland to replicate that model, Kaberuka said.

Making economic power moves for the good of African nations is a mission Kaberuka has dedicated his career to and Friday night he was, once again, honoured for his work. AllAfrica Global Media marked its 15-year anniversary with the launch of the “AllAfrica Awards”, where Kaberuka took home the “Champion Award” for his relentless efforts over the past 10 years.

Senegalese President Macky Sall received the “Economic Leadership Award”, while Maria Kiwanuka, former Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development and Senior Advisor to the President of Uganda, received the “Patriot Award.”

"Donald Kaberuka represents the type of leader needed for our African institutions and for our countries," said AllAfrica Executive Chair Amadou Mahtar Ba. "He has demonstrated consistent courage and determination to transform the Bank and the continent."

Kaberuka’s second term as AfDB President draws to a close this year.

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