Akinwumi A. Adesina

Chairman, Africa50 Board of Directors

Akinwumi A. Adesina

President of the African Development Bank

Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina is the 8th elected President of the African Development Bank Group. He was first elected to the position on May 28, 2015 by the Bank’s Board of Governors at its Annual Meetings held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

Dr Adesina is a globally renowned development economist and agricultural development expert, with more than 30 years of international experience.

He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Economics (First Class Honours) from the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), Nigeria, in 1981. He was the first student to obtain a First Class Honours in Agricultural Economics in the history of the university. He holds a master’s degree (1985) and a PhD in Agricultural Economics (1988) from Purdue University, USA, where he won the Outstanding PhD thesis award for that year.

Dr Adesina won the prestigious Rockefeller Foundation Social Science Fellowship in 1988, which launched him into his international career.

A bold reformer, as Minister of Agriculture in Nigeria from 2011-2015, Dr Adesina turned the agriculture sector of Nigeria around within four years. Under his tenure, Nigeria ended 40 years of corruption in the fertiliser sector by developing and implementing an innovative electronic wallet system, which directly provides farmers with subsidised farm inputs at scale using their mobile phones.

Within the first four years of its launch, this electronic wallet system reached 15 million farmers, dramatically transforming their lives. The electronic wallet system has now gone global and is currently being implemented in Afghanistan and several African countries.

A firm believer in private sector-led growth, Dr Adesina radically changed the perception of agriculture in Nigeria from that of subsistence to a viable business that successfully attracted $5.6 billion in private sector investments.

He also led financing initiatives to support youth engagement in agriculture and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Ultimately, under his leadership, Nigeria’s food production expanded by an additional 21 million metric tonnes

Prior to his appointment as Minister of Agriculture, Dr Adesina was the Vice President (Policy and Partnerships) of 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. 

Working with African Heads of State and Ministers of Finance, leaders in the commercial banking industry and Central Bank Governors across several African countries, Dr Adesina successfully led one of the largest global efforts to leverage domestic bank finance for the agricultural sector. 

Prior to joining AGRA in 2008, he had served as Associate Director and Regional Director for the Southern Africa Office of the Rockefeller Foundation for over a decade.

Dr Adesina was Principal Economist for the West Africa Rice Development Association (1990-1995), Senior Economist and Social Science Coordinator for the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (1995-1998) and Assistant Principal Economist of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (1988-1990). 

A prolific writer, Dr Adesina has authored over 70 scholarly publications on policy, agricultural development and African development issues.

He is a globally respected economist and has served as the President of the African Association of Agricultural Economists, as well as on the Editorial Board of several academic journals, including the International Journal of Agricultural Economists. He was awarded the Outstanding Black Agricultural Economist Award by the American Association of Agricultural Economists. He was a Distinguished Africanist Scholar at Cornell University, USA.