AfDB establishes Tonia Kandiero Prize for Excellence in Leadership

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) President, Akinwumi Adesina, has instituted a special prize for excellence in leadership in memory of Tonia Kandiero, late Director General of the Bank’s Southern Africa Regional Development and Business Delivery Office (d. June 28, 2017).

On the first anniversary of Tonia’s death, Adesina said, “The Tonia Kandiero Prize is expected to strengthen a culture of professionalism, innovation, and administrative and management excellence, all of which Dr Kandiero exemplified. 

The Prize for Excellence in Leadership will provide an opportunity to acknowledge, encourage, and nurture leadership talent at all levels in the bank.”

Adesina described Tonia Kandiero as a true leader and a rare role model who embodied an exceptional standard of excellence. He recalled her strategic vision and passion for the bank’s mission, stressing that those who worked with her still remember her dedication and quiet effectiveness. The prize will identify and honor bank staff who follow in her footsteps by bringing innovative ideas to the table, challenging the status quo when necessary, and inspiring others to do the same.

Tonia Kandiero was born in Malawi, and worked across Southern Africa in government, academia, and international financial institutions. Prior to her appointment as Director General of the Southern African Region, she served as the bank’s Resident Representative for Tanzania, and was responsible for managing one of the largest African Development Fund beneficiary’s portfolios of US$2 billion. Kandiero enhanced dialogue with partners, donor coordination, and the bank’s profile in Tanzania. An academic and researcher by training, Kandiero joined the bank in 2007 as a senior research economist. From 2007 to 2009, she served as principal research economist in the office of the chief economist of the bank. From 2009-2011, she worked as lead macroeconomist, with a focus on supporting the development and implementation of the bank’s first regional integration strategy paper and macroeconomic and sector work in trade and regional integration.

Before joining the bank, she worked at South Africa’s national treasury as director for trade and macroeconomic policy and then as the director for global development policy and international economics. At South Africa’s Treasury Department, she analysed national, regional, and multilateral trade issues and managed South Africa’s relationships with international financial institutions.

Kandiero earned her Bachelor’s degree in 1993 in business administration from Morehead State University, Kentucky, USA and a Master’s degree (1997) and PhD (2001) in economics from Howard University, Washington DC, USA.

Nominations for the prize require that Bank staff demonstrate innovative, risk-taking and, above all, superior records of achievements and dedication to the vitality of the bank community and clients. The committee also looks for outstanding creativity in the face of difficult challenges and complex development issues, and the prioritisation of learning as an integral part of the bank’s assistance to regional member countries, including knowledge gained to improve business results.

The prize winner must demonstrate an effective team spirit and records of excellent working relationships with colleagues to achieve results, establish effective partnerships across multiple levels, and generously share knowledge and information that help achieve the High 5 development agenda. - AfDB

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