Donald Kaberuka has been President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) for the past 8 years. He received his doctorate in economics from Glasgow University and has orchestrated a development plan which has earned him international acclaim over the years. He continues to drive a culture to find new ideas to development challenges, pushing forwards African-led solutions to fast- track growth, doing so with his feet firmly on the ground, and his head firmly on his shoulders. He speaks to New African's correspondent, Sena Kpodo
I know people have a habit of running this continent down, but the colonial powers who were in Africa from 1884 to the 1960s left a legacy in many countries of maybe 5 doctors, a couple of university graduates, old infrastructure, no universities, few schools. Today, the things you see on the continent have been done by us, we Africans.
There is now a new conversation about the bright economic prospects for Africa and this is true; so long as we have an understanding that although we’ve covered much ground, there are many more hills to climb.
At this time I think the three points that worry me most are the many rising inequalities in economic growth, without jobs created at the same speed, and big pockets of conflict on the continent. So I think we need to figure how to resolve these three: inequalities, job creation and conflict resolution. If we do that, we will be on the next level of the value chain.
I like to look at things not just like a picture captured in a moment, but as a film, dynamic and constantly moving. I think the most important thing is to keep going.
I’ve recently become an active social media user. I like the way young people challenge us to think outside of our comfort zones. As an institution we communicate fine, but that is what I call bureaucratic communication. I wanted to get out and be in touch with young people on the continent, people I don’t know, people who don’t know me, so we can share ideas so that we personalise, humanise what we do, and I’m happy for the debate I have with my followers. I recall a debate on the management of resources and whether government should transfer some of the monies from oil and gas as a dividend directly to the citizens – similar to what happens in Alaska. It generated wonderful ideas and at the bank we are seriously studying whether direct transfers to citizens would be the right thing to do.
“Africa has shown resilience in the face of the financial crisis…And yes, Africa is at a turning point, but do not be mistaken, we are not yet at the tipping point.”