Presidents were here. Financial gurus and moguls, policy wonks and experts of every stripe and the world media have been and gone. The
We can now reflect on the meeting and what we have learnt. Apart from the usual statements on economic growth and development, there were some useful lessons.
The first lesson: bankers are human. If you thought they are just dark-suited, grim-faced, unsmiling creatures only interested in getting their pound of flesh, you may have to think again. They have feelings and emotions like any of us, and are just as likely to express them.
Now, this is not something you would associate with Kaberuka or any other banker. We all know his ability to reel of facts and figures, recite percentage increase of this or decline of that over a certain period and on the basis of that make projections for the next so many years. These roll off his tongue with effortless ease. Nothing there to cause anything to catch in his throat.
Kaberuka's momentary emotional display might appear odd but it is revealing. First of all, he is human and can be overcome by strong feeling. Secondly, and quite significantly, he is not just any banker; he is a development financier. And development financing is about ordinary people. It is about improving their livelihoods and making them prosperous and happy - giving them reason to smile and laugh, even to cry. That is what Kaberuka was talking about - the successes of his tenure in contributing to the welfare of the continent's citizens in the face of enormous challenges.
Development financing is not simply about balance sheets and profit and loss accounts in the traditional sense, although, of course, these matter. The balance sheet of an institution like the AfDB should be reflected in a healthy balance of well-being and prosperity against poverty and despondency.
The second lesson: African leaders, past and present are inclined to be more candid about the affairs of our nations. We are used to politicians' diplomatic correctness in public in which the truth is often sacrificed. They make inoffensive and sometimes meaningless pronouncements from on high and then quickly leave. Of course, in private, away from the glare of the media, they can be blunt and candid.
The third lesson: the richest people, just like bankers, look like the next bloke. They are made of bone and flesh, not out of steel. Nor does the scent of money ooze from every pore of their being.
You could easily pass Aliko Dangote and not pay him much attention.
The richest make a lot of money, but the best of them also think about ordinary people. After all, the better off people are the more money they can make.
Another lesson: bureaucrats and experts are not inherently anti people, impersonal creatures. They do not live in a strange world of theories and models, permutations and extrapolations and assumptions of every sort. The AfDB meeting in
It was the sort of conversation you might hear between intelligent and ordinary people with the former having the ability to come down to the level of the latter.
The AfDB meeting in
The just ended meeting in
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