The flamboyant head of the African Development Bank, with his trademark bow tie and yen for economic progress across the continent, is back at the helm with another five term.
Akinwumi Adesina, the president of the AfBD, secured at second term at the at the body’s annual meeting in Abidjan after months of uncertainty. He garnered all of the votes from the regional and non-regional members of the bank and will carry on in the job until September 2025 along with his famous bow tie.
“I wear it because it is sexy and cool to be in the agriculture business. You mustn’t forget that by 2030 65% of the world’s arable land will be in Africa,” quipped Adesina at the launch of his brainchild, the Africa Investment Forum, in Johannesburg, in May 2017. Those words, in some way, sum up the man and his attitude to the continent.
Adesina, the former agriculture minister of Nigeria, has been a passionate proponent of economic development since he took the job five years ago and has been seen by many on the continent as a breath of fresh air in often musty world of development finance. He grew up, the son of a farmer, near Ibadan 128 km north east of Lagos in Oyo State.
As a young man studied as an agricultural economist at Purdue University in Indiana, United States even though an academic back in Nigeria told him his maths was not good enough for him to get in. This was the prestigious college that educated the first man on the moon Neil Armstrong; in fact, one in every three NASA manned space missions had a Purdue graduate on board.
In his first five year term , Adesina connected 18 million Africans to electricity and another 15 million the chance finance and private investment. Under his stewardship the AfDB has also maintained its AAA-rating among the global ratings agencies.
The certainty of the re-election is a sharp contrast the uncertainty of the last few months for Adesina. A group of whistle blowers accused Adesina of giving contracts to friends and appointing relatives to the bank. The man himself denied the accusations saying they were a mere attempt to tarnish his reputation.
The bank’s ethics committee cleared Adesina. In July, a panel of three international experts: former Irish premier Mary Robinson; Gambian chief justice Hassan Jallow and the former World Bank integrity vice-president Leonard McCarthy cleared Adesina of any wrong doing.