An opportunity has presented

An opportunity has presented itself to Ethiopia for the second time in the 50 year history of the continent’s premier bank, gossip claims. The first, in the early 1990s, was lost due to the failure of the most likely candidate, Tekalegn Gedamu, and the new government, which toppled the Marxist military government, to consider the weight of the opportunity beyond contempt for one another, gossip recalls.

Having served the African Development Bank (AfDB) for 16 years, before he retired from the position of Vice President for Finance, Tekalegn had always been at odds with the policies of the Revolutionary Democrats. Little was the surprise, then, to see him unable to win their government’s endorsement of his nomination, without which his hopes were crashed, hence opportunity was lost for Ethiopia, according to gossip.

They now have their preferred candidate in Sufian Ahmed, 57, who is one of the eight candidates bidding for the presidency of the AfDB, which is also a chief of staff. Starting out as a Commissioner of Customs back in the early 1990s, Sufian remains the longest serving finance minister of Ethiopia. Today, he prides himself on being part of a policy which sees the fastest growing economy in Africa – at 10pc expansion in gross domestic product (GDP) – while keeping inflation at bay in single digit.

These are important achievements in the eyes of global economic gurus; he ensured that they are mentioned in a loud tone in his five-page vision statement submitted to the Bank on March 20, 2015. If elected, he pledges to focus in resource allocations for infrastructure, agribusiness and private sector growth; provide valuable advisory capacity to members; and improve the quality of management and operations in the bank.

Gossip sees that the stakes are high as the competition for higher office is tough. If, however, judged by the quality of their presentations and elaboration of visions in their respective statements, Jaloul Ayed, Tunisia’s former finance minister, excels all. Indeed, Sufian’s submission is the briefest among the candidates; many of whom focus on regional economic integration and the creation of opportunities particularly for women and youth, gossip noted.

But the world of international financial institutions hardly works on the form level, claims gossip. What counts to the highest degree, is the strategic desire and political alignments of those countries with the muscle of shares when they vote, according to gossip. The countries which play power balance in the AfDB are the United States, China and Nigeria, states with higher shares and voting rights than many of the 78 shareholding countries, 20 of which are outside of the continent.

For instance, there is almost no likelihood for Sufian to get the support of Nigeria, for it has its own candidate, Akinwumi A. Adesina (PhD), running for the office. That leaves him to focus his energy in persuading China and the United States. It seems that such was the considerations for him to hedge an open debate among candidates held in Washington D.C. few weeks ago, gossip disclosed. He instead preferred to expend his time there visiting American officials in his lobbying effort to win them over to his side, gossip revealed.

Ironically, and unlike the Chinese, the Americans remain undecided on which candidate’s behalf they would cast their prized support, claims gossip. Their bet, however, is between Cristina Duarte, current minister of Cape Verde, and Sufian, gossip disclosed. They will keep their cards until the last minute, the day before votes are cast, to visualise how the two candidates fare during a “dialogue” with the Board of Directors scheduled for May 27, 2015, claims gossip.

If Sufian is elected to serve as the president of the AfDB, it will mean much not only for Ethiopia; it will likewise prove that there are global affairs where the Americans see eye to eye with the Chinese, not in the pursuit of shared values but common interests, claims gossip.

Published on May 18, 2015 [ Vol 16 ,No 785]



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