Speculation that Dr. Donald Kaberuka, the outgoing African Bank President, is a suitable presidential candidate to replace President Paul Kagame, should be kept in the pocket, at least for now.
Kaberuka says he has no political ambitions and will continue doing what he is good at, economics. “It would be a shame if I don’t use my skills of my expertise,” he said last evening shortly after bidding farewell to President Kagame at State House for the support he gave him during his ten-year tenure as the President of Africa’s top financial institution.
Kaberuka has insisted he wants to stay in the area of investment, probably in private equity. He believes Africa has a lot of opportunities with countless investors waiting.
Looking relaxed and grounded, Kaberuka who was escorted by Finance Minister Claver Gatete, met journalists at Serena Hotel after the farewell dinner and emphasised that he has no intentions and plans to engage in politics. “Not everybody wants to be a politician,” he said.
It had earlier been speculated that Kaberuka’s meeting with President Kagame was not only meant to discuss his leaving of the African Development Bank, but also plans for succeeding him for the country’s top job.
But Kaberuka said the discussion with the President focused on three subjects and no more. “We discussed development in Africa, the global economy and Rwanda’s relationship with the bank,” he said.
He added that his mission at the bank has been completed and, “I am here to thank his excellence the president…it is my responsibility to come back and thank him.”
Kaberuka flew to Uganda this morning to meet President Yoweli Museveni and bid him farewell too. He is expected to do the same to other shareholders including Kenya and Tanzania.
The tough economist, who has been given multiple names such as Mr. Infrastructure, for investing $28 billion in infrastructure on the continent ($11 billion for energy), commended Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda for eliminating Non-Tariff Barriers such as free movement of labour to allow a diverse and robust trade to take place between the three markets.
The partner states are currently constructing a railway-line that will stretch from Mombasa to Kigali, an asset Kaberuka said is important for trade and development.
However, he said that if the barriers were not removed, “it would make the railway useless.” He encouraged the East African Community to continue efforts of regional integration and disregard the “You-Lose-I-Win calculus.”
As Kaberuka hands over the presidency mid August, he leaves behind a strong, sound triple A-rated financial institution, which he rescued from collapse at the face of a global financial crisis, in which many financial institutions suffered because of liquidity.
He raised the bank’s portfolio from $5 billion to $12 billion, increased the capital of the bank by 200%, mobilised a $25-billion fund for poor countries and facilitated private sector growth ten folds, from $200 million to $2 billion annually.
Notably though, his achievement has not only earned him a lot of respect, but raised Rwanda’s profile and proved may critics of Rwanda’s abilities to produce top notch experts with global expertise.
“Some people had thought that a person from a small country like Rwanda could not win the election,” he said. “But shareholders had confidence in Rwanda.”
He humorously boasted that it is under his tenure that the bank has had the best and successful election in history.
During his election, in 2005, elections went for eight stressful rounds and were given less than 30 days to prepare for taking over.
His successor, Akinwumi Adesina, has three months to prepare.