This Week’s Profile: Kagame’s Pick!
The President of the Republic of Rwanda never ceases to amaze me. He is a Pan African to the soul, and he believes what the so called “Developed Nations” can do for us, we can do ourselves and even better. As more and more roads from the continent start leading to Kigali Rwanda, President Kagame has thought it wise to create a totally government owned company that would become the business and financial center of excellence and reference of the continent. One of its primary functions will be to promote trans -border trade and investment. Many countries in Africa would of course look into their own country for persons to fill the two top positions on the Board of Directors of this prestigious institution; driven by political nationalistic, ethnic or even nepotic clientelism. Not President Kagame. If he wanted the best institution the he must have the best and to do that he had to cast his net widely on the African Continent. He came up with two names: Tidjane Thiam of Ivory Coast and Jacob Diko Mukete from Cameroon. These two African icons are my profiles of the week. “Picked” by none other than President Paul Kagame.
Thiam was born in Cote d’Ivoire, of royal blood since from his mother’s side he is a descendant of Queen Yamousso. In 1982, Thiam was the first Ivorian to pass the entrance examination to the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris. In 1984, he graduated from the École Polytechnique and in 1986 from the École Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Paris where he was top of his class. In 1986 he was offered a scholarship to study for an MBA at INSEAD and join the McKinsey Fellows Programme’ in Paris. He received an MBA from INSEAD in 1988 (Dean’s list). In 1989 he took a one-year sabbatical from McKinsey to participate in the World Bank’s Young Professionals Program in Washington, D.C. He returned to McKinsey in 1990, working first in New York City and then in Paris.
In April 1994, at the request of the President, Thiam left France and McKinsey to go back to Abidjan and become the CEO of the National Bureau for Technical Studies and Development . In that role, which had cabinet rank, he was also handling key negotiations with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Thiam was also a key member of the Privatization Committee, in charge of privatising extensive state-owned assets.
In August 1998, Thiam formally joined the cabinet and was appointed Minister of Planning and Development. In December 1999, whilst Thiam was abroad, the Ivorian military seized control of the government. Thiam returned to the country, where he was arrested and held for several weeks. General Guéï, the new head of state, offered him the position of chief of staff, but he declined and left the country in early 2000. After a partnership by McKinsey in Paris, Thiam moved to AVIVA in a high directorial position from he left as, chief executive of Aviva Europe and an executive director, sitting on the plc board. In 2007. Thiam left Aviva in September 2007 to become chief financial officer of Prudential plc. Thiam was appointed chief executive of Credit Suisse in 2015 from which he resigned On February 7, 2020,
Thiam is a household name in the world of Global Finance. By appointing Thiam to the Chair of the Board of this pioneer Rwandan institution, President Kagame was fully conscious of the fact that he does not come only with world recognised expertise but will be the glittering billboard of this new Rwandan venture. The political situation in his home country is a secret to no one. So, what about Thiam? Will he stick to the statement he made to The Daily Telegraph and English Newspaper: “I have always said I am not a politician. I like the business life. I like to keep some faith in human nature, and one thing I feel about politics is that if you want to lose any faith you have in people, just stay in that business. I wanted to keep a few illusions”
Jacob Diko Mukete was born in Cameroon of Royal blood since he is a Prince of the Paramount Chiefdom of the Bafaw people in Meme division of the South West Region of the Republic of Cameroon. Mr. Diko Jacob Mukete, is a banker an economist and a lawyer, and worked with the African Development Bank from 1991 until his retirement.
A product of the exclusive English public school Diko moved on to the London School of Economics for graduate and post graduate studies. He graduated with a Masters in monetary economics. Following on the footsteps of his father Chief V. E Mukete, he moved on to University of Cambridge but this time to read law. After his law degree he joined the prestigious Honorable Society of Gray’s Inn before being called to the Bar of England and Wales. On his return to Cameroon he chose the path of the economist and was employed by the government owned Société National d’Investissement (SNI). In 1991, he responded to a call for applications by the African Development Bank (AfDB). He was employed at the AfDB where his talents were soon spotted by the President of the Bank with whom he continued to work as a close collaborator later of as Chief Economist of several African countries before moving to Ghana in 2006, where he opened the very first office of the AfDB as the Resident Representative. He later moved onto Rwanda in the same position before returning to head office till he retired occupying the position of Governance Director. He is a consultant in many countries and sits on the Boards of several Banks.
Having worked in Rwanda, Diko knows the Economic and Financial sectors of Rwanda very well and is very well known for his extraordinary knowledge of the history of that country. President Kagame in choosing this heavy lifter, knows the country will benefit from the knowledge of this banker, lawyer, economist and governance expert who comes with a special edge, that of context.