Akinwumi Adesina, born 6 Feb 1960, is a Nigerian development economist and agricultural development expert, currently serving as the president of the Africa Development Bank.
He was elected as the president in 2015 and re-elected for a second term in 2020. He is the first Nigerian to hold the position.
Adesina previously served as Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development between 2010 – 2015. During his tenure, he was credited with introducing an innovative electronic wallet system, to provide farmers with subsidised farm inputs at scale using their mobile phones. This electronic wallet system reached 15 million farmers in 4 years and has gone on to be implemented in several other African countries including Afghanistan.
He led financing initiatives to support youth engagement in agriculture and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), and successfully attracted private sector investments in Agriculture in excess of $5.6 billion. It was a rosy time for Nigerian farmers as food production expanded by an additional 21 million metric tonnes.
Until his appointment as Minister in 2010, he was Vice President of Policy and Partnerships for the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), where he led several bold and innovative policy and finance initiatives that leveraged over $4 billion in Bank finance commitments to Africa’s agriculture sector.
The renowned economist holds a Bachelors degree in Agricultural Economics from University of Ife where he graduated with First Class Honors, the first student to be awarded this distinction by the university.
Education and Career Rise
Forbes records that Adeshina was once told by a scholar in his university that he could never get into Purdue University, Indiana, to further his education as his “math was poor” but Adeshina was undeterred.
He got admitted into Purdue University, where he not only got his Masters (1985) and PhD in Agricultural Economics (1988) but also won the Outstanding PhD Thesis for his research work.
In 2010, Adesina was appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as one of 17 global leaders to spearhead the Millennium Development Goals. In September 2016 again, Ki-moon appointed Adesina to serve as a member of the Lead Group of the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement.
On October 31, 2019, Dr Adesina led the African Development Bank to achieve the highest capital increase since the Bank’s establishment in 1964, when shareholders raised the general capital of the bank by 125%. This increased the bank’s capital by $115 billion, from $93 billion to $208 billion, a historic achievement for Africa.
Adesina was named the African of the Year by the All Africa Business Leaders Awards (AABLA™) on December 6, 2019, in recognition of his innovative contributions to the Africa Investment Forum, which opened up the continent to billions of dollars in investment.
However in January 2020, corruption allegations were brought against Akinwumi Adesina. According to the whistle blowers, he had been giving contracts to friends and appointing relatives at the bank.
Adesina described the allegations as attempts to tarnish his reputation and after an internal review by an independent panel and the United State of America, he was cleared of all corruption charges.
Recognition and Awards
The 60 year old development expert has received several distinctions and global awards. Some of which include Honorary Doctorate degrees across Nigeria and USA, Forbes Africa Person of the Year in 2013, Top 100 most Influential Africans in 2015, Emeka Anyaoku Lifetime Achievement Award of Outstanding International Icon, amongst others.
It was because of his numerous recognitions that a cloud of dust was raised when corruption allegations were made against Adesina as he wrapped up his first tenure as AFDB president.
Reports state that former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo is currently drumming support for the President of Africa Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, to enter the 2023 presidential race.
Obasanjo by his support for Adesina, subtly sidelined former Lagos State Governor and National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, whose ambition is more prominent in the South-West.
Many citizens believe Adesina has the power, experience, network, pedigree, influence and ethical background to serve the nation as President.
However, as of August 2021, no public statement has been made by Akinwunmi Adesina to declare his intention to run for Presidency in the 2023 elections.