Prof Ndulu was a giant in the field, say experts

23Feb 2021
By Guardian Reporter
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Prof Ndulu was a giant in the field, say experts

​​​​​​​THE death at the age of 71 of former Bank of Tanzania (BoT) governor Prof Benno Ndulu as he underwent treatment at the Hubert Kairuki Hospital in Dar es Salaam has shocked a legion of experts in the banking community and economic research regionally and abroad.

Former Bank of Tanzania (BoT) governor Prof Benno Ndulu.

Prof Ndulu was born on January 23, 1950 and started his career at the University of Dar es Salaam in the late 1970s, rising to higher academic levels and conducting extensive research. He became an acknowledged expert on Africa’s capacity building in the aftermath of structural adjustment programmes.

Before joining the World Bank as lead economist in the country (Tanzania) mission, he was already widely known for his involvement in setting up the African Economic Research Consortium based in Nairobi whose work he led, receiving an honorary doctorate (honoris causa) from the International Institute of Social Studies in The Hague in 1997.

Following his PhD in Economics from Northwestern University (1984) in Evanston, Illinois in the United States, he taught economics and published widely on economic growth, structural adjustment, policy governance and international trade issues.

Standard Chartered Tanzania Bank CEO Sanjay Rughani, deputy chairman of the Tanzania Bankers Association and Chairman of the CEOs Round Table, said in a condolence message: “Africa and the world at large have today lost an incredible visionary leader who nurtured and impacted many individuals and economies. He will surely be missed.”

Rughani said that, while serving as BoT governor, the renowned professor championed financial inclusion and the agenda of ensuring sound macroeconomic management.

He added: “He was also well recognized for his significant contributions to capacity building and research in Africa.”


Msafiri Nampesya, the late Prof Ndulu’s personal assistant, said the deceased was admitted for more than ten days before he died – also noting that funeral arrangements are taking place at the late professor’s Mbweni residence in the city.

After leading the BoT from 2008 to 2018, Prof Ndulu assumed the position of senior advisor at the International Growth Centre at the University of London where, reports say, he was given a five-year residence permit in Britain as a top-level expert.

Tanzanian commentators noted that he took over as BoT governor in a difficult period following parliamentary upheaval and the premature exit of his predecessor, Daudi Balali, who also had a track record with the International Monetary Fund for the better part of two decades.

Prof Ndulu, much like his predecessor, ran the central bank at a time when dependency on crop exports had long been eclipsed, with the rise in gold exports at the start of the century, the rise in natural gas exploitation, and steady tourism arrivals.

It is on record that the impact that the professor had in and around Africa is difficult to understate, looking at the litany of assignments and invitations he was receiving before and after leaving his position at BoT.

Many Tanzanian experts who knew him well also affirm that he was the only Tanzanian so far to have served as Deputy Governor and then Governor of the Tanzanian central bank.

They say that explains why, towards the end of his BoT career, international recognition and invitations started streaming in.

On October 13, 2015, Prof Ndulu was named Africa’s Best Central Bank Governor, whereas in 2009 he was named the Best Central Bank Governor of Africa during the annual meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Similarly, on January 7, 2016, he was appointed chairman of the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion, a global network of financial policy makers – whose members are central banks and regulatory institutions.

On September 27 2019, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed the Tanzanian economics guru to his country’s Presidential Economic Advisory Council.

Early last week, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed appointed Prof Ndulu in the same capacity on the recommendation of Dr Yinager Desse, the Governor of the Central Bank of Ethiopia.

It is further reported that, in view of all these engagements, Prof Ndulu was compelled to turn down a similar offer from Rwanda President Paul Kagame as at the same time in his final year he was also sitting on the Board of Directors of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

UK sources said that Prof Ndulu had a special talent resident permit from the British Government for his involvement in the Board of Directors of Oxford University where he spent most of his time.

The permit is for five years and entitled him to live in Britain, the report noted, adding that Prof Ndulu was “one of very few exceptional Africans to be accorded this distinguished honour and privilege”.

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