DETERMINED: Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank. Picture: AFP
DETERMINED: Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank. Picture: AFP

Adesina re-elected president of the African Development Bank

By Bloomberg Time of article published Aug 28, 2020

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By Leanne de Bassompierre, Baudelaire Mieu and Katarina Hoije

JOHANNESBURG - African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina was re-elected for another five-year term following a tumultuous three months that divided shareholders.

He received unanimous support, the Abidjan, Ivory Coast-based lender said in an emailed statement Thursday. “As shareholders, we will give him all the necessary support to carry forward and implement his compelling vision for the bank.”

“I look forward to working closely with each and everyone of you for the urgent and difficult task ahead of supporting Africa to build back, better, smarter, and boldly from the Covid-19 pandemic,” Adesina said in a speech following the vote.

The 60-year-old Nigerian was the sole candidate to head the continent’s biggest multilateral lender, in a virtual vote as a result of the coronavirus, at the end of its two-day annual meetings. The run-up to the election saw the AfDB survive a corporate governance test when unidentified whistleblowers accused Adesina of helping friends and relatives get jobs and contracts from the bank.

While he was cleared by an internal investigation, the U.S. wanted an independent probe, a position supported by Western nations including the U.K., the Netherlands, Switzerland and Sweden. It was vehemently opposed by Nigeria, while Equatorial Guinea and Sierra Leone expressed their support for Adesina. An external review headed by former Irish President Mary Robinson last month cleared him.

Shareholders agreed to review and update the bank’s whistleblowing policy and its code of conduct for elected officers among other rules meant to strengthen governance, they said in a statement released at the end of the two-day meeting.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had called for a review of the AfDB’s governance framework in an earlier statement, where he also urged the bank to be more selective and cost-effective in its operations.

“The bank must do more to manage its resources more wisely,” he said Wednesday. “The independent oversight functions of the AfDB -- including integrity, evaluation, and audit -- must be given the resources and necessary freedom to operate effectively.”


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