2013 African of the Year

Nigeria’s Daily Trust Newspaper names Donald Kaberuka, president of the African Development Bank, the 2013 African of the year

|  By Vincent Nzemeke  |  Nov. 25, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

DONALD Kaberuka, president of the African Development Bank AfDB, has been named the 2013 African of the year. Kaberuka’s honour is in recognition of his role in spearheading the Africa50 Fund to mobilise the finance of infrastructural projects in various parts of the continent. The award which is sponsored by Nigeria’s Daily Trust Newspaper was announced on Thursday, November 7, in Addis Ababa, during the African Media Leaders’ Forum.

Salim Ahmed Salim, Tanzania’s erstwhile foreign minister and former secretary-general of African Union, said the award was also to appreciate Kaberuka for bringing up new ways of financing development in the continent. “This award is for his bringing to fruition the idea of domestically financed development.”

The Africa50 Fund seeks to leverage infrastructure financing for transformational development projects from African central bank reserves, pension and sovereign wealth funds; the African diaspora; and high net worth individuals on the continent. The fund was endorsed in May 2013 by African finance ministers during the bank’s annual meetings in Marrakech, Morocco, where Kaberuka underscored the critical role of infrastructure in Africa’s development. “The one thing which can really slow down the recent performance in its tracks is infrastructure. No country in the world has been able to maintain seven percent GDP growth and above sustainably unless the infrastructure bottleneck is overcome.”

In July, African institutions including the African Union Commission, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, regional economic communities, RECs, regional development finance institutions, DFIs, and NEPAD planning and coordinating agency, endorsed the Africa50 Fund as the continent’s vehicle for facilitating large-scale mobilisation of resources to unlock international private financing with a view to addressing Africa’s $45-billion infrastructure gap, according to some estimates.

Kaberuka, added that the African Development Bank would play a lead role in the fund.  “It will be a vehicle which can build on the AfDB track record and financial strength as investor, financial engineer, to attract local and international pools of savings, utilize smart aid and leverage that to up our funding of infrastructure. It will be a strongly rated instrument able to issue a bond of significance – a bond attractive to investors.”

Commenting on the fund, Salim said the Africa50 Fund “is a game-changer in the delivery of infrastructure.” He added that Africa must take ownership of its development. “We are proud to honour an idea whose time has come. Kaberuka has shown what Africa should do.”

 The award will be presented at a ceremony slated for January 15, 2014 in Abuja. Last year’s African of the Year award went to former South African president Thabo Mbeki.

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