Omar Kabbaj won election as president of the African Development Bank (AfDB) on 26 August, three months after voting began. The former minister said he would seek to restore confidence in Africa’s largest financial institution, with a focus on leveraging more private capital into projects (MEED 9:6:95, Regional Focus).

The AfDB should continue to work for social and economic development, Kabbaj said on 28 August. ‘At the same time, one has to be realistic and look at financing possibilities and the capabilities of the countries to absorb efficiently these resources,’ he told Reuters.

The AfDB has been slow to join other international financial institutions in creating new private sector financing mechanisms. ‘It did not go far enough to anchor more financing of the private sector, I mean both foreign and national,’ Kabbaj said.

Kabbaj starts work on 7 September and plans to appoint an external bureau to evaluate the bank. The AfDB’s triple-A rating has come under heavy pressure due to internal changes and financial problems. It has been put on credit watch by Standard & Poor’s. Kabbaj says he will draw up a three- year action plan, to be presented to the bank’s governors within four months.