Donald Kaberuka, the immediately past president of the African Development Bank (AfDB) based in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, is an alumnus of the University of Dar es Salaam. Donald Kaberuka was born on 5 October 1951 in Byumba in Rwanda’s northern district of Gicumbi, some 60 kilometres south of the country’s capital city of Kigali, where he attended his early primary and secondary schools in the early 1970s. He then proceeded with university education, enrolling at the University of Dar es Salaam in 1973/4 for a three-year bachelor’s degree programme in Economics and Development Studies. Upon return to Rwanda, Kaberuka worked for over a decade in the areas of banking and international trade, before embarking on postgraduate studies abroad, leading to an MPhil (Dev. Studies) from the University of Anglia and a PhD (Econ) from the University of Glasgow in the late 1970s and 1980s.
In October 1997, he was appointed Minister of Finance and Economic Planning in Rwanda, serving in that position for eight years up to 2005. It was during this period that he oversaw Rwanda’s successful economic reconstruction in the aftermath of the civil war. He carried a credit for helping to stabilize Rwanda’s economy from the effects of the 1994 genocide. In July 2005?and with the strong backing of his country?Kaberuka was elected president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), taking office in September 2005.
An action-focussed and results-oriented economist, Donald served as the President of the AfDB for ten years, from September 2005 until August 2015, when, in accordance with the Bank’s constitution and protocols, he had to hand over and leave. But one thing to be said upfront is that he left at the height of public African and international appreciation for a dedicated and highly responsive service he rendered in terms not of simply drawing plans but taking actions in implementing them. “The people of Africa are not looking for incremental, evolutionary steps. They are looking for a step change, a quantum leap. The real challenge is not drawing up the plan. The real task is to demonstrate that it can be delivered,” as said in his Adebayo Adedeji lecture at the valedictory ceremony on August 31, 2015. It is on record that Kaberuka had led an institution whose financial standing had been restored from that of near-collapse back in 1995. And he vowed that, even after his departure, he would “continue working for the development of Africa … My sense is that the big push for infrastructure is not yet there. The Bank continues to look for ways of funding Africa’s energy, Africa’s highways [and] Africa’s Information Technology because this is what is costing this continent 2 per cent of GDP growth every year”. This point had been one of the high operational emphases of the Bank and the recovery avenues for the economies of African countries. Naturally, AfDB soft-lending for infrastructural recovery and hence for Africa’s socio-economic development—with AfDB chief Kaberuka behind it—became a point of reference in the policy discussions and implementation strategies by many African countries. By the end of Kaberuka’s ten-year term from 2005-2015, the Bank’s capital had tripled to $100 billion and the Bank itself had made massive investments in development projects across African countries.
After retirement from the Bank, Dr. Donald Kaberuka is still as intellectually charged and as professionally active as he was, though now in different capacities: as Senior Advisor, Boston Consulting Group Inc. (since December 2016) concerned with public-sector operations, social impact and financial institutions’ practices; as Chairman and Managing Partner, Southbridge Group Inc. (since October 2017), a real-estate consultant company based in Wisconsin, USA concerned with planning and control of land development, leasing and marketing; as Co-Chair, Highlevel Panel on Internal Displacement of the United Nations Organization (since December 2019); as High Representative for the Peace Fund whose mandate was/is to mobilize additional resources for the African Union’s peace and security-related activities; and as Chairman on the Board of the Geneva-based Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (since 16 May 2019). Dr. Kaberuka is helping to raise at least US$14 billion for the Global Fund for 2020–2022. According to the Global Fund, the funds are targeted at helping “to save 16 million lives, [to] cut the mortality rate from HIV, TB and malaria [by] half, and [to] build stronger health systems by 2023”. One of the many scores in Dr. Kaberuka’s international career and reputation was an honour bestowed on him on June 18, 2015 by the President of the International University of Grand-Bassam (IUGB) in Côte d’Ivoire, Professor Saliou Touré, by naming of the University’s state-of-the-art auditorium ‘Donald Kaberuka Auditorium’ in recognition of the AfDB’s outgoing President’s effort “to promote the education of girls in the sciences, in Africa in general and in Côte d’Ivoire in particular.” In the light of his many other appointments and honours, it is obvious that Dr. Kaberuka’s schedule?even now in retirement?is busy. The University of Dar es Salaam is not only proud of him but it also wishes him all the best.