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  • 2009

Dr Ashraf Ghani grew up in Afghanistan before pursuing his education abroad. Born to an influential family in Afghanistan in 1949, he spent his early life in the central province of Logar. He completed his primary and secondary education in Habibia High School in Kabul. Growing up in Kabul under monarchy, where his father worked in various senior capacities, he has been immersed in politics from his early days. He travelled to Lebanon to attend the American University in Beirut, where he met his future wife, Rula, and earned his first degree in 1973. He returned to Afghanistan in 1974 to teach Afghan Studies and Anthropology at Kabul University before winning a government scholarship to study for a Master’s degree in Anthropology at New York’s Columbia University. He stayed at Columbia University and won his PhD there, with a doctoral thesis (Production and domination: Afghanistan, 1747-1901) and was immediately invited to teach at the University of California, Berkeley (1983) and then at Johns Hopkins University (1983-1991). In 1991, Dr. Ghani joined the World Bank as lead anthropologist, advising on the human dimension to economic programmes. Following the ouster of the Taliban regime in late 2001, Ghani was asked to serve as Special Adviser to Ambassador Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN Secretary General’s special envoy to Afghanistan. In that capacity, he worked on the design, negotiation and implementation of the Bonn Agreement, which set out the roadmap for transition to a new government. During the Interim Administration, Dr Ghani served, on a pro bono basis, as Chief Adviser to Interim President Karzai. In this capacity, he worked on the preparation of the Loya Jirgas (grand assemblies) that elected President Karzai and approved the Constitution. As Finance Minister during the Transitional Administration, Ghani issued a new currency in record time; computerised operations of treasury; introduced the budget as the central instrument of policy; centralised revenue; and instituted regular reporting to the cabinet, the people of Afghanistan and international stakeholders as a tool of transparency. He won the Sayed Jamal-ud-Din Afghan medal, the highest civilian award in the country. He was recognized as the Best Finance Minister of Asia in 2003 by Emerging Markets. On March 31-April 2004, he presented a seven-year programme of public investment, Securing Afghanistan’s Future, to an international conference in Berlin attended by 65 finance and foreign ministers. In October 2004, Ghani was appointed as Chancellor of Kabul University. He subsequently founded the Institute for State Effectiveness, to help governments and their international partners to build more effective, accountable systems. As Chairman of the Institute he co-authored a book Fixing Failed States to international critical acclaim.