Know the Beginning Well

An Inside Journey Through Five Decades Of African Development


The best way to plan for the future is to know as much as possible about the past. This book offers an inside look at Africa’s development journey across five decades, told through the eyes of someone who made the same trip. It is a personal account of some landmark people, policies, and institutions that have shaped Africa’s postcolonial history—and will continue to shape its future.

K.Y. Amoako is a former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa. He spent two decades in senior leadership positions at the World Bank and is the founder and President of the African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET).

Amoako began his career in 1974 at the World Bank, becoming the Bank’s Director for Education and Social Policy from 1992-1995. From 1995-2005, Amoako served as Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) at the rank of Under Secretary General of the UN, during which he transformed the institution to more effectively serve African policy-makers, to amplify the African voice internationally and to influence African partners.

After his 10-year stint at ECA, Amoako spent 2006 as a Distinguished African Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC. Amoako has worked with leading development experts and political leaders on high-level international commissions and task forces that address the development prospects of Africa and many of today’s central global issues. Among many others, he chaired the Commission for HIV/AIDS and Governance in Africa convened by Kofi Annan, and was a member of the Commission for Africa, established and chaired by Tony Blair.

Amoako was also a member of the Commission on Macroeconomics and Health, chaired by Jeff Sachs and the Task Force on Global Public Goods, co-chaired by Ernesto Zedillo. He holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Ghana, and a PhD in Economics from University of California, Berkeley.