Memories of

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Benno Ndulu

Benno was passionately committed to digitalisation as a solution for the poorest countries to finally be able to make the advances their populations so desperately need. The energy he dedicated to this was unwavering, whether it be financial inclusion, the potential of the platform economy to create jobs for young people, or – work he was excited to start next – more detailed empirical work on gender and access, which would, as always with Benno, have been as academically rigorous as it was immediately available to policy makers. Just before he died he was to present an important study in which he set out in great detail evidence for how African policy makers should tax digital services – an urgent, live policy question.

His guidance of the Digital Pathways work in all of the above was priceless. He was a brilliant tactician – always knowing just what to say and who to talk to to unblock the sticky political blockages that so often stand in the way of change.

That he was an extraordinarily prolific man was evident from his resume – central bank governor, set up Tanzania’s revenue service, long time World Bank senior economist, established a pan-African economic research network, was on President Ramaphosa’s economic advisory council, represented the IDA-recipient countries in negotiations with the World Bank about lending priorities.

But what could not have been told from reading the long list of his achievements was his humility. He was a true public servant, deferential to everyone in his urgent desire to support progress, when others in his position might have demanded deference to themselves.

And at the same time as all the above (he had at least four day jobs) he was still writing papers, tending to his farm in the countryside when he got the opportunity, mentoring various policy leaders across Africa, and running 10k daily. It was both an honour and a delight to work with him and we will miss him enormously, personally and professionally.

Book Owner: Digital Pathways at Oxford
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Philippe Dongier

Benno remains with us as a giant of economic policy and as a gentle and kind spirit. We still hear his voice and wise guidance. He used his great intellect to analyze issues deeply, to take bold decisions. His wisdom, courage and commitment have improved the lives of hundreds of million of people. He’s …

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Meena Bhandari

Benno Ndulu was the epitome of a gentleman. I was truly honoured to have worked, and to have spent some time with such a humble man. He was always sincere, thoughtful and utterly dedicated to his work and life’s mission. He always had a welcoming and knowing smile, and he was always incredibly kind …

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Leonard Wantchekon

Benno was great economist and policy maker, a truly commited Pan Africanist. Generous, passionate and thoughtful… His passing is huge loss for Africa.  …

Leonard Wantchekon

Dr Sayouba OUEDRAOGO

Hello, I have not had the opportunity to meet you or work with you.Nevertheless, any loss of human lifes touches me in more than one way. Human being is most precises of riches. May your soul rest in peaces and may your works continue to enlighten the work to perpetuate your meùory. Peaces to …

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Philippa King

I hugely enjoyed working with Benno, whether travelling or in Oxford. He always brought a real ‘spark’ into the room with him and was incredibly generous with his time despite his busy schedule. Benno was so modest and humourful that you could easily forget that you were in the presence of a really great …

Philippa King

Toby Phillips

Benno was a great man – a truly global influence – and he was also a mentor and a friend to me. I have many fond memories of Benno over the last few years, mostly from hotel bars talking shop after a conference or a workshop. I will miss the ease of talking to …

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Rose Marsh

It was a such a privilege to work with someone as wise, experienced, knowledgeable and generous as Benno and especially to get to know him when we were travelling in Nairobi. He will continue to be a role model for all of us …

Rose Marsh

Beatriz Kira

Knowing Benno and having had the opportunity to learn from him was an immense privilege. He was incredibly wise, kind, and generous. He was a true leader who inspired everyone around him, always taking the time to share his invaluable advice and experience with those who needed it. I will forever cherish the memories of …

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Matthew Sharp

It was a great honour to work with Benno over the last six months or so on Digital Pathways’ policy stream. He was deeply committed to the cause, insightful, enthusiastic and charming. Despite his busy schedule, he was always willing to get on the phone at short notice to provide valuable advice on government relations …

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Acumen Network

Thank you for sharing the news. It’s indeed a very important loss in many ways.    On behalf of Acumen Network, I offer our sincerest condolences.   Francis Dossou Sognon, Acumen Network …

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Sigrid Meijer and Antonie de Kemp

This is incredably sad news! I am sure I also speak in name of my colleague Antonie de Kemp, who had the honor to know Mr. Ndulu in person, that we would like to pass our sincerest condolences to the family and colleagues. This is a real loss for Tanzania and Africa.   May …

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Raluca David

It is rare for a public leader of such standing to also be an open, approachable and foremost kind person. Prof. Benno Ndulu was all of these, and much more. He was a mentor to all of us at Digital Pathways at Oxford, and he is terribly missed. Raluca David …

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Tebello Qhotsokoane

Prof Ndulu was a great mentor to me over the last couple of years, always willing to share wisdom, networks and a laugh with me. He had his door always open, and was the sort of person who made you really believe that change was possible in Africa. He insisted it was, and his …

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Stephan Malherbe

Benno’s small stature and relaxed demeanour contained a giant. He effortlessly spanned generations — actually centuries! — in style and intellectual interests, and in lived experience of Tanzania, East Africa and the world. He was a renowned central banker, and behind the scenes an astute political economist. He was acute, wise, funny, frequently amused. …

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Joshua Setipa

We are deeply shocked and saddene. We were looking forward to our engagement with him regarding his experience in the Pathways programme.   Please accept our deepest condolences. Africa has lost one of its strongest sons and a beacon of hope.   Joshua Setipe …

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Reception team at Blavatnik School of Government

We’d like to express our great sadness at the news of the passing of Benno.  He was one of the friendliest and nicest gentlemen we got to interact with, always cheerful and with a most infectious smile. Deepest condolences to his family.   Anne & Anda   …

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Laura, Kate and the DIAL team

We wanted to write and send our deep condolences to you on Professor Ndulu’s passing. We so appreciated his graciousness and patience, and his passionate commitment to the mission we all share.  Over many years it was our privilege to encounter him at meetings, workshops and discussion fora and I was always personally struck …

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Prof. Filiberto Ceriani Sebregondi, former EU Ambassador to Tanzania (2011-2015)

I have had the honour to meet and interact with Professor Ndulu during my posting as EU Ambassador to Tanzania, when he was Governor of the Bank of Tanzania. I have always been impressed by Benno’s outstanding capacity to analyse complex matters and explain them in simple words, always adapting to his varied audience: …

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Dr Thomas Chataghalala Munthali, Director General of the National Planning Commission of Malawi

Am just in shock on the loss. Speechless to say the least. We are just about to launch the Malawi Digital Economy Strategy in which Prof. Benno Ndulu  was its main architect. My love and prayers are with his family.  …

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Maximilien Kpodjedo - Digital Adviser to the President of the Republic of Benin

I am truly sorry to hear of the loss of Professor Ndulu (Benno). As he has embarked on supporting us over the Benin Inclusive Digital Economy Initiative project, he was a great expert in digitalization. During our virtual meetings, he could mix serious professional discussions with humor and his extended life experiences. Sadly, I …

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FCDO’s Digital Development Team

Sending our deepest condolences to Prof. Ndulu’s family, friends and colleagues. Benno will be missed by so many, over many years he has been a key partner and instrumental in both his thinking and leadership. It has been an absolute honour and pleasure to have worked with such a passionately committed public servant, and …

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Ibrahim Elbadawi

Very sad to know about the passing away of our dear friend Benno, my heart goes to his family.  Benno was a great scholar and an African icon. He will be sorely missed by the generations of African and Africanist economists who came to know him and worked with him over more than three …

Ibrahim Elbadawi

Kenneth Creamer

Benno Ndulu will be sorely missed by all who in recent months have been working with him on the South African Presidential Economic Advisory Council. Benno always offered the wisest counsel on economic policy issues and was able to draw on a deep well of knowledge and experience pertaining to economic theory, policy and …

KennethCrramer

Alan Gelb

Benno’s passing is a tragic loss for us all.  What a combination of leadership, intellectual excellence, strategic grasp of policy, and — even more important — a modest and unassuming personality, with huge committment to Africa and its future.  I remember well his sense of humor, and how enjoyable it was to be in …

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