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Kordjé Bedoumra, master of modernisation

Kordjé Bedoumra, master of modernisation

Kordjé Bedoumra

Kordjé Bedoumra returned to Chad in 2012 after three decades working at the African Development Bank (AfDB), and has now become pivotal to his country’s modernisation efforts. He has held three government positions, first as Minister of Economy, Planning and International Cooperation; then as Secretary General of the Presidency; before becoming Minister of Finance and Budget in October 2013. With this experience, he is now Chad’s candidate for the presidency of the AfDB.

Kordjé Bedoumra, a telecommunications engineer, is 62 years old and a graduate of the École nationale supérieure des télécommunications in Paris. He joined the AfDB in 1983 as a telecommunications analyst, working in various roles before becoming a senior manager of the infrastructure and energy department in 1996. From 2006, he managed the Water and Sanitation Department. He became the Secretary General of the Bank in 2008 and participated in all political decisions and general policy development of the Bank as Vice-Chairman in charge of institutional services, where he oversaw the management of staff and administration. On return to his home country in 2012, Bedoumra has had a clear plan: to equip Chad with modern management tools and to promote good governance. “These tools are necessary to sustain the country’s economic growth enabled by oil revenues and to permanently engage the country on the path to developing and diversifying its economy,” he says.

His objective is for Chad to reach the completion point under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC), which would allow the cancellation of all or part of the country’s external debt. This is something that Chad has aspired to since 2001.

Bedoumra says he is now “confident in the outcome” of the process, and believes that Chad is capable of reaching the completion point “by April 2015 at the latest”. A new IMF review mission is scheduled for February.

Bedoumra is devoting all of his efforts to this goal. Upon his arrival at the Ministry of Planning, Bedoumra led the development of the 2012-2015 National Development Plan, and worked on the implementation strategy of the President’s visions for an emerging Chad by 2025. A champion of economic diversification and strengthening non-oil revenue, Bedoumra brought his technical expertise and methodological approach that he had developed at the AfDB to the government. Improving accountability and monitoring were key: production of performance and results reporting, measures to strengthen ownership of projects by the technical ministries concerned and other processes were all initiated under his watch. In February 2013, he became the Secretary General of the Presidency, a position he describes himself as “extremely strategic, important for understanding the development of a country”, alongside President Idriss Déby Itno. Before returning to the government in October of the same year he focused on consolidating and modernising public finances, and bringing the country into line with budgetary discipline at the Ministry of Finance.

In January 2014, the Parliament adopted a new organic law putting Chad in line with the regional standards of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central African States (CEMAC) and international best practice. Also in 2014, the public expenditure system was computerised as well as the management of public servants’ salaries. The automation of the payroll has led to a reduction in losses which the Minister estimates at CFA10 billion ($18m). These actions are expected to continue in 2015, through the extension of the integration system to all revenues and the computerisation of the management of taxation and customs.

Bedoumra, in coordination with his colleagues from the Petroleum ministry, has tackled the improvement of the management of oil resources, which constitute over 60% of Chad’s income. Past mismanagement was at the heart of the decade’s friction with the Bretton Woods institutions, who denounced both the government’s opacity and their increase in military spending.

At a time when the region is experiencing growing insecurity, between the Boko Haram threat and the Libyan crisis, Chad’s financial backers “have a better understanding of” the requirements that motivated Chad’s choices, says the Minister. In an effort to limit the risk of corruption and OTC markets, transparency, traceability and rationalisation efforts have culminated in the creation of a monitoring office for oil and mining revenues. The office will also be publishing this data.

On 15 October 2014, Chad was accepted as a full member country in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). This compliance was praised by Clare Short, the British Chair of the EITI board, who judges Chad as being “on track towards an open and responsible governance of natural resources”.

Chad, which is a small player compared to the oil giants of the continent with its 100,000 barrels of oil a day, is not “an oil country like all the others”, according to Bedoumra, who advocates the diversification of income sources for the economy. Though the exploitation of new fields gives hope for a doubling of oil production by the end of 2015, the recent fall in oil prices has proved him right: budget estimates for 2015 have had to be revised, the deficit is now estimated at $354m.

Having proved adept at improving Chad’s image to financial backers and development partners, Bedoumra hopes to succeed Rwandan Donald Kaberuka as the head of the AfDB in May. Until the election, he will continue his work in N’Djamena, drawing on his expertise in promoting good governance.

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Written by African Business Magazine

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