Respected Cameroonian economist joins African Development Bank

Célestin Monga

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Célestin Monga has been named Vice President of the ADB and will take charge of governance and knowledge management at the pan-African financial institution.

Célestin Monga, a distinguished Cameroonian economist with a long career in global finance, has been named Vice President of the African Development Bank.

Monga will be in charge of governance and knowledge management at the pan-African financial institution.

Since 2014, Monga was deputy managing director of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization.

Prior to that, he spent 17 years at the World Bank, including working as senior economist for Europe and Central Asia. He also led a World Bank team that reviewed policies in the office of the vice president in charge of development economics and was a director for the structural transformation program in the African region.

Among top 5 economists in Africa

Monga also launched several initiatives, including debt relief for poor, indebted countries, and development of financial practices now used in many countries to protect against external financial disruption.

In 2012, he was named by Jeune Afrique magazine as one of the five best African economists. He has published economic analysis with some of the most prominent economists in the world, including Nobel laureates in economics.

Monga favors an economic integration model for Africa, in which markets coordinate more closely with an eye to exporting to the West.  “If you are a group of neighboring countries but all poor and producing the same raw materials, it is useless to invest in infrastructure to connect because there is no market or purchasing power among the others. It is necessary to seek markets where they are, especially in the West,” Monga said.

Monga holds a post-graduate degree from the University of Paris-Sorbonne. He was Mason Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and continued graduate studies at Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He received his PhD in France, at the University of Pau.

He has lectured at Boston University in the United States and the University of Bordeaux in France.

Writer and editor in economics

He is the author of several books and served as editor of the economy section of the New Encyclopedia of Africa.

His latest book on economics is the “Oxford Handbook of Africa and Economics” (2015), co-published with Justin Yifu Lin, former vice president and chief economist of the World Bank. Mongo is co-author of the forthcoming book from titled “Handbook of Structural Transformation.” His works, which explore aspects of economic and political development, have been translated into several languages and serve as teaching tools in many universities worldwide. His next book about the challenges of modernity in Africa, will be published in September.

Monga said he was “very excited” to be joining the African Development Bank at a time when its new president, Akinwumi Adesina, is plotting a new strategic course for the financial institution that promises to improve standards of living in Africa.

Bank shifts course

Adesina, who joined the bank in September, adopted a strategy of “power for all” or universal access to electricity for the continent. Lack of electricity, he said, is the greatest obstacle to development of Africa.

“The development of the energy infrastructure for Africa will drive more rapid economic and social development of the continent by reducing the cost of doing business, powering industrial growth, unlocking entrepreneurship, improving education and health systems and deepening financial services,” Adesina said.

Other priorities of the new leadership at the African Development Bank include increased investments in the private sector and a more “activist” approach to infrastructure development by helping resolve legal and regulatory bottlenecks that slow progress.

“Africa is living a crucial moment in its history and I am delighted to join the team to carry out this program,” Mongo said.

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