Jaloul Ayed is a candidate for the presidency of the African Development Bank. A highly respected international banker and a former Tunisian minister of finance, he is also an entrepreneur and academic. He talked with Stephen Williams about his vision for the Bank and Africa.
Following the Tunisia's 'Jasmin revolution', Jaloul Ayed returned to his native Tunisia to lend a hand to reconstructing the country in the post-Ben Ali period. Becoming the Minister of Finance in January 2011, he set about preparing a five-year Jasmin Plan', submitted to the G8 as part of the Deauville Partnership Agreement.
On his return to Tunisia, Ayed brought with him many years of commercial banking experience having joined the Moroccan BMCE Group (where he was responsible for creating the BMCE Capital investment banking arm and BMCE International in London, UK) and as president of the executive committee of the BMCE Group, led a bold expansion strategy into sub-Saharan Africa, well before it became fashionable and when many of the bigger French banking groups were retreating from the continent. BMCE now has a presence in 22 countries.
When asked whether he considered his extensive banking experience an advantage in his bid to lead the AfDB, he was almost reluctant in his response.
"I have to be mindful, and respectful, of the other candidates. I think, we all have equal chances, but I do bring something different to the table.
"The fact that I managed a bank, and a large bank, or banks actually, is an advantage because the African Development Bank is a bank--it's not an industry or government administration.
"Historically, the AfDB has never been managed by a banker--so I feel I will bring something different. And the fact that you can have a banker who spent 30 years of his life managing financial institutions is a definite advantage.
Ayed played a significant role in developing the capital markets in Morocco, building it from the ground up. Fie stresses the importance of dynamic local capital markets to drive investment in the continent.
Ayed also felt it was useful that he comes from outside the AfDB and could bring a different perspective as to how the bank operates and what it can do.
"At a time when the bank has to re-elevate itself, seizing the opportunity that Africa offers today, and pushing the continent through to the next stage of development, placing Africa as the next solid emerging market in the world, you need to explore new innovative ideas and...