Rather, he opens up to the views of others to determine the direction of his next move, and is a man steeped in boardroom dialogue who sees service to his nation as a vocation rather than a career.
With signals of a promising future, Kwabena – a native of Kumawu, a farming community in the Ashanti Region of Ghana – entered the prestigious Prempeh College in the 60’s on a scholarship from Ghana’s Cocoa Board; a scheme largely reserved for children of Ghana’s chief agricultural export, cocoa. Achieving the highest standards in his Ordinary level and Advanced level certificates at Prempeh, the ‘Eton’ of a post-independence Ghana, he gained admission to the University of Ghana (Legon) in 1964 and completed in 1968 – two (2) years after the overthrow of Ghana’s first president.
With the nation emerging from a colonial fabric, he rose from a shy young man raised in Ashanti, Ghana’s golden capital, into a principal at the nation’s premier university in Accra, where he graduated with a Bachelor’s of science degree in Economics. Kwabena, a man unassuming in stature and shaped by providence, proceeded to do his Masters and PhD at Syracuse university in New York on a USAID and African Graduate Fellowship award.
A juggernaut of international banking repute, awarded an MBA in finance and banking from (Syracuse University in December 1979), he dedicated himself to a life of service in his vocation for public service and influenced public policy in many facets of Ghana’s economy. For 33 years, he moved through the fabric of many public intuitions where he left inerasable footprints in banking, governance and leadership – to the admiration of friends and foes alike.
A generational thinker who returned home after a sterling academic sojourn in the diaspora, concerned about the future of Ghana, he veered into banking and rose through the ranks by merit and diligent public service to the positions of Deputy-Governor of the central bank of Ghana in 1995 and Governor in 1997. This came on the backdrop of quintessential service at the Ghana Commercial Bank, both in London and at home, and a pointed international record with the IMF African department as an Economist in the 70s.
A consummate centre-left politician with a deep history with the revolutionary cadres, he worked with the founder of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Jerry John Rawlings who passed away quite recently, to build a resilient economy and prosperous Ghana. This saw the implementation of several people-centred policies which alleviated the plight of Ghanaian citizens, with the introduction of a new constitution in 1992. It’s not surprising then that he became the only finance minister in Ghana’s history to achieve sustained single digit inflation for 32 months in 2011, serving as the finance minister at the behest of venerable Law Professor, late former President John Evans Attah Mills.
Kwabena is a shining star in private industry, a father of four (4) outstanding children, a devoted Christian, and built successful business enterprises in insurance, banking, oil & gas and mining. Unibank, one of the home-grown Ghanaian banks and the biggest in terms of Ghanaian ownership, was the bulwark of many Ghanaian businesses and success stories of homemade entrepreneurs. Until recently, when the bank had its licence revoked during the banking sector clean-up by the regulator that commenced in 2017, Kwabena once again showed magnanimity, love for the rule of law and his willingness to allow state institutions investigate the allegations, no matter how frivolous
Like a man whose reward is in his journey, and in recognition of his many years of service, he won many awards. A particular mention came in 2011, when he was adjudged Africa’s finance minister of that year and went on to receive the Lifetime Achievement award by Corporate Initiative Ghana, organiser of the Ghana Banking Awards, as a distinguished banker who commands respect among his peers.
During his recent absence from active public life, he has continued offering critical advice to our country’s technocrats, media, academia and many others. A generous benefactor whose life journey has been one of a relentless inspiration, hard-work and determination, family values and respect for tradition, his towering impact will transcend generations of African leaders across many disciplines – and like the Rockefeller’s of America, Kwabena Duffours’ blueprints will become the wealth generators of Africa. As the dust settles on a journey of over three (3) decades of public service and selfless private life, Ghana and Africa can only hope to protect its generational thinkers and preserve their sacrifices as a library of thought for tomorrow’s leaders to learn from.
The writer is a: freelance journalist, a business executive and public policy enthusiast.
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