When I set out to establish the African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET) more than 12 years ago, I consulted many close associates and confidantes. I had a kernel of an idea—that Africa needed an African-led organization to help support governments to implement policies to sustain growth by diversifying production, increasing export competitiveness, embracing technology, and creating productive jobs.
But I needed help from others to turn that idea into a reality. I needed expertise, guidance, and sound judgment. So I didn’t think twice about turning to Prof. Benno Ndulu, who of course did not think twice about helping out.
Like all of Africa’s economic community, I was deeply saddened by Benno’s sudden passing. He was a brilliant economist, and an even better person. He was generous, affable, and committed to the vision of a prosperous African continent. Whatever endeavor he chose to pursue, he excelled at—and he left Africa the better for it.
Our paths first crossed decades ago, after Benno had helped found the African Economic Research Consortium. At the time, I was the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), and he and I found shared goals around the need to build better research capacity in Africa so that policymakers had more tools for smart, informed policy design. It goes without saying that Benno was a pioneer in his thinking.
While serving as the Central Bank Governor of Tanzania, he played a central role in macroeconomic reforms that stabilized the country’s economy and helped rebuild and restore trust in the Tanzania’s financial systems—a fundamental precondition to economic growth and progress.
Benno had assumed his role at the Central Bank when I sought his advice on creating ACET. He was generous with his time and counsel, despite the demands of the position he held. I set up an advisory board of economists, chaired by Nobel Laureate Prof. Joseph Stiglitz, to help us think through ACET’s mission and ensure that we set the right research agenda. Benno eagerly joined.
In 2019, after retiring from the Central Bank, Benno formalized his relationship with us at ACET by joining the Board of Directors. I was honored and thrilled that he chose to continue bringing his expertise to our mission.
Benno was a deep and transformative thinker, and in his passing Africa has lost an invaluable intellectual asset. And many of us have lost a friend. Let us honor his legacy by continuing to work toward the prosperous Africa he forever envisioned.