Leader Profile: Arunma Oteh, Vice-President, AfDB

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has five Vice-Presidents, each one responsible for a different element of the organization’s operations. Arunma Oteh has served as Vice-President for Corporate Management since her appointment in March 2006.

The Corporate Management portfolio includes responsibility for overseeing the Language Services Unit, the General Services and Procurement Department, the Human Resources Management Department, and the Information Management and Methods Department. Arunma was appointed as part of a program of institutional reforms that are taking place within the Bank. Her appointment, with that of Mrs. Zeinab Bashir El Bakri as Vice President, Operations for West and Central Africa Region created, for the first time in the history of the AfDB, two female Vice Presidents. Arunma’s work focuses on the institutional operation of the AfDB. She explained, “The Bank group is focused on increasing its relevance to African countries by improving the development effectiveness of its projects while ensuring that it maintains a robust financial condition. Partnership is the key, and indeed the Bank group is a persuasive evidence of the potential combined efforts of all its member countries”.

In May 1999, the Board of Governors of the African Development Bank Group adopted the “Vision” of the African Development Bank, “A Re-Invigorated Bank: an Agenda for Moving Forward”. This paper formed the basis of the AfDB Strategic Plan 2003 - 2007 and set the challenge of making the AfDB the leading development finance institution in the region. It includes several reform focuses, specifically, raising development effectiveness, better management of funds, and corporate governance strategies. In the struggle against corruption, Arunma believes that action is important at an institutional and governmental level, but also on the personal level. “We can only win the fight against corruption if each and every one of us has zero-tolerance for it. Each of us is a potential taker or a giver, and we need the courage to say no,” she said.

Arunma, of Nigerian/British nationality, joined the ADB in 1992 and moved to her current post after working as AfDB Director of Treasury from 2001. Prior to working in the Bank she worked in corporate finance, consulting, teaching and research for a number of institutions including Harvard Institute for International Development of USA and Centre Point Investments Limited of Nigeria. She holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration from Harvard Business School, Harvard University, Boston, USA, and a first class honors degree in Computer Science, from the University of Nigeria in Nsukka, Nigeria. She co-edited the book, ‘African Voices African Visions’.

In the future, Arunma will continue to support the expansion of Bank efficient operations. “By doing transactions and explaining the story of the African continent we are able to bring a renewed focus to Africa” she said. “When you buy the AfDB you are getting access to knowledge about the African continent, in particular the positive stories which for a large part remain a well-kept secret. Africa today, presents the world with enormous opportunities and possibilities and the Bank Group remains committed to supporting Africa in realizing them”.

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