Translated to french by Liana Cramer
“For me it is a calling, a sacred mission to accomplish”
Mr. Kordjé Bedoumra is one of the candidates competing for the presidency of the ADB. Currently the Chadian Minister of Finance and Budget, after having served as the Secretary General of the Presidency of the Republic, and, before that, Minister of Planning, the Economy, and International Cooperation. He is above all an in-house executive of the ABD, where he spent 29 years, including 16 years as an executive, most notably, as the vice-president.
What motivates your candidacy for the Presidency of the African Development Bank?
Africa has recently seen renewed growth and is among the fastest growing regions of the world. Africans and their governments aspire to rapid transformation, to the emergence of their economies, and to innovation for the creation of wealth for the majority of the population that remains in poverty. With many challenges to confront, the ADB, the leading development finance institution in Africa has an important role to play. It needs to have at its head a leader capable of driving it to fully carry out its role.
If anything I have outstanding experience, unique to this institution for 29 years, from Operations, to the Vice Presidency of Institutional Services, to Secretary General. I have worked across the ADB, from every angle, so I can claim better than anyone to have a perfect knowledge of the workings of the ADB, and the best way to mobilize this machine without losing time.
Add to this my experience working in the Chadian government as the Minister of Planning, Economy and International Cooperation and Secretary General to the President – a strategic position for understanding the functioning of a country at the highest level – and finally today as Minister of Finance and Budget. I can thus pride myself for being strongly prepared to operate immediately and effectively as the head of the ADB in the service of Africa. I must add to this an important personal element. I have had a passion for the success of my African continent and its development since I was a student. I have always worked towards this and at the heart of my career is my passion for Africa’s development. For me it is a calling, a sacred mission to accomplish.
Are you the candidate of the Sahel or Central Africa? What will you bring to these areas once elected?
My candidacy is supported by the President of the Republic of Chad, his Excellency Idriss Deby Itno, whose stature and influence are recognized and respected both in Africa and internationally. My candidacy is also that of Central Africa, which has never had one of its own in this position, and would like to contribute this time to the development of Africa. It is also with pride that I consider myself the candidate of the Sahel, because Chad has the privilege of being at the junction of both Central Africa and the Sahel region, which is located largely in West Africa. Chad shares many of the socio-political, economic, and cultural realities with the Sahel as a whole. This includes droughts, water shortages, famine, rural poverty, etc; in short, the harsh living conditions in which our populations live.
To all this, I must add insecurity, which is most hideously represented by the rampant terrorism that has struck recently throughout the Sahel. These are the challenges that our countries currently face and which demand appropriate responses. Being from this area and having a strong understanding of these realities is an asset for me in outlining effective solutions to help resolve these problems.
It is this context that has convinced important people from all sectors and friendly countries that we are the right ones to address this challenge. The people, who are convinced that we have the qualifications to carry out this mission with dignity and success, support the choice.
We know that an election for the presidency of the ADB requires diplomacy and lobbying. Where are you with regional and non-regional members?
It is in a calm way that we lead our campaign, with strong support from the highest Chadian authorities. The election to the presidency of the ADB is a special election because it essentially involves governments; we are working to convince them by highlighting the strength of our ideas and our experience. We benefit from the support of many important people, both African and Western, who believe in our candidacy. Moreover, many friendly countries, both regional and non-regional, have encouraged us on this path.
Where is Chad, an oil country, in 2015 when all forecasts expect the fall in the price of black gold?
The unexpected fall of the price of oil on the international market forced us – like most oil exporting countries – to adjust projected revenue and expenditure. As the price of oil dropped by half very quickly, this was unavoidable. Projected expenditures were cut drastically in the first draft of the budget. Given limited finances, we will work to execute the 2015 budget prudently and economically. In any case, special measures have been taken to increase non-oil revenues. To fill the projected deficit, Chad will use budget support partners, disbursements expected from the Extended Credit Facility, and the issuance of free subscription Treasury bills. Other avenues will be explored to capture
types of loans consistent with the current financial status of Chad. But the primary lesson to draw from this situation is that the diversification of the economy, so desired and so discussed, can be effective. In Chad, we have the opportunity to focus on other areas.
The country has significant mineral resources that can be sources of income. We have gold, uranium, rare metals, etc. Efforts are underway to expedite the finalization of the inventory of our mines, improve the mining code and attract investors. The country has taken measures to transform the agriculture and livestock industries, two mainstays of the economy that employ the majority of Chadians. Two large slaughter plants are under construction to permit Chad to export meat instead of live cattle. Likewise, agricultural production will be reinforced and the availability of water in the country will be improved to allow our agricultural sector to modernize and become a significant source of income.
As the Minister of Finance, what were the major challenges you confronted in 2014?
In reality, 2014 was more of a year of success for Chad, despite certain challenges related to the fall in the price of oil in the second term. Important results were achieved in improving and stabilizing the management of public finances. To be brief, we implemented reforms that allowed Chad to obtain, on the 1st of August, 2014, the IMF Agreement under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF), which will lead us, after more than 10 years of waiting to achieve this, to the fulfillment of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC) expected in the first trimester of 2015. Moreover, we gained an increase of over 15% of non-oil tax revenue compared to the annual target. We also initiated a census of civil servants, which helped clean up our database and save the state about 17 billion CFA per year. Finally, we have put in place a mechanism to monitor oil revenues and publish them, which largely contributed to Chad becoming eligible to the Transparency Initiative Extractive Industries (EITI) on Oct. 15 2014. Overall, critical steps were taken in the consolidation of public finances, which will continue in 2015 with important actions, such as the computerization of taxes, auditing of the State’s portfolio, and the establishment of an integrated government accounting system.
Interview by: Adama Wade, Financial Afrik