Achieving gender parity in Africa has been slow but the process is gaining momentum. Several factors such as discrimination and traditional gender norms and roles partly account for the seeming lack of women’s representation in decision making.
Globally, Rwanda is hailed for its efforts to include women in governance. The country has the highest representation of women in the world than any other country, as of 2019. It is therefore not surprising that when the African Union recently elected six commissions to steer the affairs of the organization, it settled on the deputy central bank governor of Rwanda, Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa, as one of the commissioners.
She was elected as the Deputy Chair of the AU, a significant role because the position is regarded as the commission’s chief operating officer. The Deputy Chair is responsible for the financial and administrative management of the commission.
Nsanzabaganwa will replace Ghanaian, Quartey Thomas Kwesi, and assist Moussa Faki Mahamat, who was re-elected as president of the African Union Commission (AUC) for a new term of four years. Nsanzabaganwa comes into the position as a deputy governor of the Rwandan central bank, a position she has held since 2011.
In her role as AU deputy chair, she will be responsible for the implementation and management of reforms at the AU which started under the chairmanship of Rwanda President Paul Kagame in 2016. Some of the proposed institutional reforms include accountability, poor supervision and coordination of commission staff, and leadership challenges.
She will also be expected to lead the commission to financial autonomy which will result in a drastic reduction in over-dependence on external support.
Nsanzabaganwa is a graduate of Stellenbosch University, South Africa where she studied Economics, with a Cum Laude Masters (distinction) obtained in 2002 and a Ph.D. in 2012. She taught economics at the National University of Rwanda from 1999 to 2003.
She’s previously held ministerial positions in Rwanda such as State Minister for Economic Planning (2003-2008) and Minister of Trade and Industry (2008-2011). As Minister of Trade, she’s led massive reforms in Rwanda that greatly improved the country’s ranking on the Ease of Doing Business. In the 2020 report of the Ease of Doing Business, Rwanda is ranked 38 with a 76.5% score among 190 countries evaluated.
Beyond cutting a brand for herself as a finance guru, Nsanzabaganwa is also an author. She has eight finance-related publications to her credit including “Financial Inclusion, Stability, Integrity, and Consumer Protection: Harnessing Synergies, Managing Trade-offs”-National Bank of Rwanda Economic Review No. 006 and “The Economic Promise of Women Financial Inclusion”- National Bank of Rwanda Economic Review Vol. 7; 2014.
She has also been very active in the civil society space. She is a member of the African Advisory Council of The Women’s World Banking — a global nonprofit organization that promotes banking solutions for low-income women, according to her profile on this blog. She is also a founding member and chairperson of the Pan-African movement NFNV (New Faces New Voices) Rwanda Chapter. She is also the 1st Vice Chairperson of Unity Club, a non-government organization composed of Rwandan former and current country leaders and spouses and chaired by the First Lady of Rwanda.
Nsanzabaganwa is a senior academic member of the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government’s Executive Education in Public Financial Management and a Fellow of the Africa Leadership Initiative East Africa and the Aspen Global Leadership Network. The 49-year-old mother of three is also a member of the African Leaders Network, a premier community of dynamic and influential leaders in Africa.
This is the second time a Rwandan is occupying this position. The first was the late Patrick Mazimhaka, who was elected to the position in 2003 until 2008.