Kaberuka nominated for Africa Person of the Year

Rwandan economist Donald Kaberuka has been shortlisted for the prestigious Forbes 2014 Africa Person of the Year award.
Kaberuka gives opening remarks at the annual AFDB meeting in Kigali in June. (Timothy Kisambira)
Kaberuka gives opening remarks at the annual AFDB meeting in Kigali in June. (Timothy Kisambira)

Rwandan economist Donald Kaberuka has been shortlisted for the prestigious Forbes 2014 Africa Person of the Year award.

Dr Kaberuka, the president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), is credited with ushering in significant change for Africa during his 10-year tenure at AfDB.

AfDB is a multilateral development finance institution established to contribute to the economic development and social progress of African countries.

He is among the nominees for the coveted award to be handed to the winner in Nairobi, Kenya, on December 4.

His reign at the Bank, which recently moved back to its headquarters in the Ivorian capital Abidjan, has been characterised by massive investments, mainly in infrastructure, in different countries on the continent.

Fluent in English, French and Swahili, Dr Kaberuka is the seventh president of the Bank. He chairs the Boards of the African Development Bank and the African Development Fund, the soft loan arm of the Group.

Previously, he served as the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning in the post-Genocide era, and has been widely acknowledged for having been key in the country’s reconstruction and economic reform programme.

Prof. Manasseh Nshuti, an economist and financial expert who has worked with Kaberuka in the past, commends the latter for his strong dedication to work as, together with the rest of the government team, he “got our economy up and moving, from scratch.”

Prof. Nshuti is also a former minister, having served in the dockets of trade and industry, finance and economic planning, as well as public service and labour.

“He was not working alone but he really contributed to setting the foundation. He set the groundwork for a stable macroeconomic path,” Prof. Nshuti said.

“At a time when government was grappling with issues of financial discipline, he worked with others to set us on the right direction as regards financial discipline and accountability.”

“The Office of the Auditor-General was conceived and took shape well. He and others on the government team also mobilised development partners to fund our transformational agenda.”

Other contestants

Other finalists for this year’s Forbes Africa Person of the Year award include three Nigerians and a South African.

The three Nigerians are Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, author Chimamanda Adichie and Director-General of the Nigerian Securities and Exchange Commission, Arunma Oteh.

Also on the list are Thuli Madonsela, a South African advocate and Public Protector who helped draft the country’s constitution in 1994 and was named one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” this year.

Unveiling the finalists on Thursday, Chris Bishop, managing editor of Forbes Africa, said: “This is always one of the big nights of the year in Africa and the person we choose is a talking point throughout the following year.”

This year’s winners will be subjected to a public vote via this link - http://www.poy2014.com/ - and the public opinion will form part of the judges’ final decision.

Who is Kaberuka?

 Born in 1951 in Byumba (current Gicumbi District), Kaberuka studied at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, before moving to the UK to pursue a master’s and doctorate in economics at the University of Glasgow where he obtained his M Phil (Econ) and a PhD in Economics.

He worked as a commodities analyst at London investment houses Morgan, Grenfell & Co. and Rayner International, then moved to Côte d’Ivoire as chief economist for the Inter-African Coffee Organisation.

An appointment as Minister of State for Finance brought him back to Rwanda and, in 1997, he became Finance minister. Kaberuka oversaw Rwanda’s economic recovery until 2005, when he was elected AfDB president.

At AfDB, Dr Kaberuka embarked on a series of reforms aimed at making the Bank more efficient in its development programmes and its mission to alleviate poverty in Africa.

Among notable changes at the AfDB since his tenure is greater emphasis on infrastructure and regional integration, a more vibrant private sector, and institutional production.