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Interview - AfDB Reforms are on Track – Outgoing Executive Director Peter Sinon
“Yet what really - really makes me proud is seeing the president fulfill his promise for this Bank to earn its "triple A" not only from the Capital Markets but also from its clients - the member states,” says ED Peter Sinon.
- The key challenges for the AfDB now is to mobilize enough resources to make a significant difference on the ground and dent on the scourge of poverty.
- Another key challenge is to continue upgrading good governance across the continent to attract both local and foreign investments… leverage remittances by the Diaspora to the continent and restore the high double-digit growth rate that characterized some of our member countries in the pre-crises era to ensure that Africa claims this 21st Century as its Development Century.
Question: Mr. Sinon, you have served the AfDB for six good years, as Advisor and later as Executive Director for Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Tanzania and Uganda. After all these years serving the institution and Africa, what are your feelings now that you are taking up a ministerial function in your country, Seychelles?
Response: I am taking up the portfolio Ministry of "Investment, Natural Resources and Industry". I feel I owe the AfDB, my colleagues and the capable staff of this Bank a lot for this opportunity, because it is due to the accomplishments realized at this Bank that I have been selected as part of Seychelles Ministerial Cabinet. So I dedicate this appointment to my Governors, my colleagues, the Bank's Staff, my own office staff, my family and friends who I could depend and rely on. I do that with much gratitude and much humility in the hope that this solid relationship will be part of the cornerstone upon which I can rely on to satisfactorily fulfill the tasks ahead.
Question: What are according to you, the key challenges that remain to be met by the Bank to drive growth in the continent?
Response: I think the direction and priorities that have been set are firm and relevant. The reforms and reinforced capacity of the Bank due to a major recruitment drive are all going well and producing visible and commendable results. However they also present challenges. One of them is to get the merging of the old and the new to synchronize and work together in perfect harmony for the benefit of our main client - Africa.
The pillars and priorities of the Medium-Term Strategy have been bought by our 53 stakeholders and begin to feature and reflected into the national programmes that the member countries agree to pursue and realize. The key challenge is to mobilize enough resources to make a significant difference on the ground and dent on the scourge of poverty. Another key challenge is to continue upgrading good governance across the continent to attract both local and foreign investments. We also need to leverage an important resource flow to the continent - remittances by the Diaspora to the continent.
We need to enhance the peace-building capacity both within the Bank itself and in member countries for greater cohesion and relevant approaches to address emerging issues such as climate change and other cross-cutting elements such as gender mainstreaming. The Higher Education, Science & Technology as well as TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) pillar needs a major boost if the continent is to deal with the negative socio-economic threats and consequences of youth unemployment, urbanization, despair, crime and an unsavory environment for doing business and promote the private sector as the engine of growth that we need so badly.
Africa's wealth mostly lie underground in its wide variety of minerals, above ground in agriculture products and its forests, water and bio-diverse flora and fauna.. We should however never lose sight of the importance of its young human resources who are both consumers and producers dependent on scarce and precious natural resources that must be exploited in a sustainable manner. Those are daunting challenges that must be accomplished - if war and destruction through marginalization and disenfranchisement for lesser and lesser sources of water, food and other minerals take the upper hand and the continent relapse into retrogression!
Meeting the MDGs remain a major challenge - and meeting them in full will only be the bedrock for sustained growth and development of our continent.
Question: With benefit of hindsight what is it that you have been involved in at the Bank that has marked your stay?
Response: The list is long – but the following come to my mind here: Contributing towards the better conditions for Staff in general and for the Senior Advisers and Advisers at the Board who today have a much better condition than what I signed up for upon my arrival; fighting and supporting decentralization and consistently highlighting the need for improved conditions for local staff so that they are fully integrated into the Bank; Campaigning and standing solidly behind the President of this Bank who for the first time emerged from our constituency in the history of this Bank and be able to assist and marvel at the accomplishments he has registered. President Kaberuka has made us all very proud indeed. almost by default I was part of the urgency to give this Bank a decent health centre - I still look back on this as a major achievement for all in the Bank; My modest and humble contributions in the GCI VI processes that culminated in the biggest of such increase in the history of the Bank at the 2010 Annual Meetings in Abidjan. Other contributions include getting Eritrea back on Board with both their CSP and a relevant project approved and; last but not least, securing the unique and successfully implementing Partial Guarantee for Debt forgiveness by the commercial holders of high-priced bonds issued by the Republic of Seychelles. Yet what really - really makes me happy is seeing the president fulfill his promise for this Bank to earn its "triple A" not only from the Capital Markets but also from its clients - the member states.
Question: To what extent would you use the experience at the Bank to better serve your country?
Response: I will do that in every way I find possible. For me my stay at the Bank is more valuable than having pursued a Doctorate in the best University in the World - especially for one with a passion and a vocation when it comes to the 'Development of Africa and Africans to enable them to more effectively and efficiently take charge of determining their own destiny. This has been a very, very long time coming - and it’s still coming - we're not there yet. The invaluable networking I have had the privilege to develop over my years in the Bank is one of my most treasured assets. I intend to use it well. They shall definitely come in handy.
Question: What measures do you plan to take to ensure sustainability of relations between the Bank and your country?
Response: Since I have not been successful in convincing any professional Seychellois to join the Bank, I pledge to personally continue to keep the flame burning. I convinced the Governor to allow his desk officer for AfDB to come to Tunis and familiarize herself with the main stakeholders and technicians that she knows only by name and address outstanding issues. That was done last week. All in trying to maintain the relationship and ensure meaningful partnership. I am now the Bank's advocate in Seychelles and will do my best to publicize the Bank's commendable work and publications.