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Three influential personalities from Africa’s finance world, Donald Kaberuka, Michael Joseph and Jean Louis Ekra, were recognized during the 2013 African Banker Awards gala Wednesday, May 29, on the sidelines of the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) Annual Meetings in Marrakesh.
The President of the AfDB, Donald Kaberuka, received the “Made in Africa Foundation Special Recognition Award”, awarded for the first time by the Made in Africa Foundation, which recognized his work at the helm of the continent’s leading development finance institution.
“This award is for the AfDB, I am just the President. You encourage our institution to continue its work to improve the situation in Africa,” said Kaberuka, before addressing fashion designer Ozwald Boateng, who founded the Made in Africa Foundation in 2011, to tell him that he “represents a generation of young Africans and what they are capable of doing for Africa.”
Made in Africa Foundation Award
With a PhD in Economics from the University of Glasgow, Donald Kaberuka was elected President of the AfDB for a five-year term, and then re-elected in May 2010. Before joining the AfDB, Kaberuka, 60, had made a career in banking, international commerce, development and public administration.
Kaberuka served as Minister of Finance and Economic Planning in Rwanda from 1997 and 2005. During his term, he successfully led the reconstruction of the Rwandan economy after the end of the civil war. His reforms have led to the well-known rebirth of the Rwandan economy as well as the country’s lasting economic growth.
As AfDB President, Kaberuka spearheaded an important redirection of the institution’s strategy in terms of development and reduction of poverty in Africa. Under his tenure the AfDB has become the leading development finance institution in Africa. In 2009, in the midst of the world economic crisis, the AfDB approved a total of over US $12.6 billion in loans and donations.
African Banker Icon
Another figure recognized during the awards ceremony was Michael Joseph, the creator of mobile phone banking services launched under the name M-PESA by the Kenyan company Safaricom. His product has since revolutionized banking services in Africa.
In fact, a large part of the African population is currently excluded from the financial system. The banking rate is only at 23% on the continent. In Central Africa, it’s only 11% and in Niger, 2%. Mobile telephony is one of the responses to this situation, and over the last few years, the number of subscribers has exploded in Africa, reaching 600 million. Without access to a bank account, many Africans make payments using their mobile phones.
A survey has indicated that Safaricom has been a driver in the increased usage of non-banking financial services, from 7.5% in 2006 to 17.9% in 2009, surpassing 8.5 million users. The sector has created tens of thousands of jobs.
Michael Joseph became head of Safaricom by Vodafone during the acquisition of 40% of the company’s shares in May 2000 and remained until 2010. He has a vast international experience in the implementation and exploitation of large wired and wireless networks. He started his long career as a telecommunications technician. Under his direction, Safaricom went from 20,000 to over 10 million subscribers.
Jean Louis Ekra
Lifetime Achievement Award
The Ivorian Jean Louis Ekra, 54, was recognized with the African Banker Awards Lifetime Achievement Award for 2013. Ekra has served as President of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) since January 27, 2005. The institution was created in October 1993, in Abuja, as an AfDB initiative, and it has its headquarters in Cairo. Its role is to supply short- and medium-term credit to African operators and importers.
Previously, Ekra was Vice-President of the Afreximbank, which he joined in 1996. He started his career in the banking sector at Citibank, before taking over the role of Country Director for the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU). He also served ashead of the Ivorian postal service.
The ceremony, organized by African Banker magazine and IC Publications media group, assigned over 20 awards in total, including Most Innovative Bank to Ecobank Transnational, Togo; Best Retail Bank to the Banque Centrale Populaire, Morocco; and Best Islamic Finance Initiative, to the Gulf African Bank, Kenya.
The award for the Best Governor of a Central Bank was presented to Sanusi Lamido (Nigeria), while Nizar Baraka (Morocco) received the award for Best Finance Minister. The Best African Banker Award in 2013 was awarded to the Group Managing Director (GMD) and Chief Executive Officer of Access Bank, Nigeria’s Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede.
The ceremony, held in the gardens of the Taj Palace in Marrakech, included a fashion show and musical performances by Youssou N’Dour, Akon and John Legend.