Cape Verde's AfDB presidency bet a breath of fresh air

Cristina Duarte, Cape Verde’s finance and planning minister is an official nominee for the African Development Bank. Photo by: Dasan Bobo / World Bank / CC BY-NC-ND

The official nominees for the African Development Bank presidency are in — and one of them is a woman.

Cristina Duarte is Cape Verde’s official nominee to the race. Her candidacy is strongly backed by President Jorge Carlos Fonseca and Prime Minister José Maria Neves, who in 2014 touted the country’s finance and planning minister as a “reformist” and among those behind the country’s “successful economic reforms,” according to newspaper Financial Afrik.

Her candidacy offers a breath of fresh air at the bank, which has never had a woman president in its 50-year history. But her chances of winning depend on how well she can convince the bank’s members — regional and otherwise — to support her in the May elections. Unlike in multilateral financial institutions like the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, where the president has always been American and Japanese, respectively, the selection for AfDB’s next chief is an unpredictable — and some suggest a more exciting — process.

Duarte will be up against some strong contenders, including Nigerian candidate Akinwumi Adesina, whose country has the most voting power at the bank at 9.2 percent, and Zimbabwean Thomas Sakala, who retired from his post in October as AfDB’s vice president of programs. He served the bank for more than three decades, and reportedly has the full support of the whole Southern African Development Community.

Mthuli Ncube, the bank’s chief economist and vice president, didn’t make it on the list. He had lobbied for a nomination but failed to secure one from South Africa. Johannesburg’s decision not to support a candidate was most likely done to avoid raising eyebrows from its neighbors as Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, President Jacob Zuma’s wife, already heads the African Union Commission, which is seen as another influential organization in the region.

Duarte also faces competition from Sierra Leone, who nominated its foreign affairs and international cooperation minister, Samura Kamara, for the job. Kordje Bedoumra from Chad, Sufian Ahmed from Ethiopia, Birama Boubacar Sidibe from Mali and Jaloul Ayed from Tunisia complete the list of candidates.

The nominees are expected to submit their vision for the bank next month. Duarte, however, was quoted as saying in a news conference in January in Senegal that some of the areas she’ll be focusing on are private sector development, regional integration, women’s participation, innovation and structural transformation.

Who do you think should replace Donald Kaberuka? Does Cristina Duarte have a fighting chance? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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About the author

  • Ravelo jennylei

    Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.

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