A Date With the IMF Chief – Christine Lagarde

clThe IMF Chief Ms. Christine Lagarde was in town and I took time to have some intellectual intercourse with her on Monday the 6th this month. My aim of attending the @Mindspeak session at the Intercontinental Hotel in Nairobi where we met was advised by many things.

I first learnt of her coming to Kenya through the financial markets guru Aly Khan Sachu through his always busy twitter feed. To me that was an opportunity to meet the one person I am hoping to one day occupy the position she currently is occupying at the IMF. But most important was to meet the Kenyan business leaders and entrepreneurs who would obviously attend the session and do a little bit of networking.

So the moment came and the waited guest of honor for the two hours the session lasted arrived in style accompanied by lead business men and women in Kenya amongst other dignitaries. Bob Collymore of Safaricom, Vimal Shah of Bidco and Martin Oduor the former KCB Chief were among the big names in the Kenyan business sector who graced this meeting of business minds.

When Ms. Lagarde started speaking, it was not her eloquence and fluency that struck me most, rather it was her deep understanding of her job. Without referring to any material, she took us to a world trip of the global economy. From the US and their stimulus programe tapering, to china’s growth, the economic growth figures of the various regions of the world in 2013 and the projected figures for 2014 to Japans economic performance . She talked of the Eurozone economic performance and outlook and talked much more about the IMF and its functions as an international financial institution.

However, all was not enough and satisfying till she came back to my home here in Kenya. She surprised many by her understanding of our economy better than even some of us who were present there. She had real statistics about the performance of our economy, and that was very challenging to many of us. She talked about the political climate here at home, touched on devolution, governance and corruption amongst many other things.

Finally, her parting shot was in 3Cs: C for Complete devolution; here she emphasized on the need to protect the technocrats implementing devolution from the greed of the politicians. C for Closing infrastructural gap; under this subject she emphasized on our need to invest more in infrastructure development as it is key for economic growth. C for Continue with regional integration; she praised the current efforts of integrating the East African states, but warned that regional integration is a sensual and exciting thing but very sensitive too, and therefore we need to “hasten slowly”.

After gathering some business and economic wisdom from all present and chatting with a few new faces, it was my time to leave and apply what I had learnt in economic development. The coffee was sweet of course and the variety of snacks served impressive, but the literature I carried from my date with the IMF Chief is what remains with me after all has been digested and finally egested.  Now am looking forward to the next date with the World Bank President; one Jim Yong Kim.

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