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Five things to know about Makhtar Diop, first African to head IFC

The World Bank Group on Thursday announced the appointment of Makhtar Diop as Managing Director and Executive Vice President to head the International Finance Corporation (IFC), an arm of the Washington-based institution.

With the new appointment, Diop holds the record as the first African to attain the position and will be responsible for executing IFC strategies and strengthening partnerships. His appointment will be effective on March 1.

“Honored to have been appointed as IFC’s Managing Director & Executive VP,” Diop said.

“More than ever, private sector growth in developing economies is key to improve people’s lives. Now is the time to boost inclusive growth and promote sustainable investments for the benefit of all,” he said.

The World Bank President David Malpass applauded Diop’s experience in both the public and private sectors, saying he would help attract investment to low-carbon energy, transportation, clean water, digital services and other infrastructure.

“Makhtar’s skills at IFC will help the World Bank Group continue our rapid response to the global crisis and help build a green, resilient, inclusive recovery,” Malpass said.

Diop said his highest priority is to reduce the risk premium for private sector investment in “fragile states”, particularly in Africa.

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Below are five notable things to know about the record-breaker.

A Senegalese

Diop is African before anything else. The new MD of the World Bank’s subsidiary that offers investment, advisory, and asset management services to encourage private-sector development in less developed countries is a Senegalese national.

Senegal, a country in West Africa with a population of over 16 million people, is bordered by Mauritania in the north, Mali to the east, Guinea to the southeast, and Guinea-Bissau to the southwest.

Born the same year Nigeria became independent

Diop was born in June 1960 in Dakar, the capital of Senegal. This was the same year Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country which has the largest economy in the continent, got its independence.

Diop is, however, older than Nigeria’s independence by four months as the country which exports the most crude oil from Africa claimed its freedom on October 1. Nigeria was under British colonisation for almost 60 years, from 1901 to 1960.

An economist

In addition to his international organisation experience, Diop is an economist by training who started his career in the banking sector before joining politics, the IMF and later the World Bank. He holds degrees in economics from the Universities of Warwick and Nottingham in England.

While Diop completed his postgraduate studies in economics at the University of Warwick and the University of Nottingham (UK), he earned a Master’s degree in Finance in Paris, France.

Diop began his career as a financial analyst and authorised agent for the Union of Senegalese Banks (USB), in Dakar. Between 1986 and 1993, he was technical advisor to the Senegalese Ministry of Economy and Finance. From 1997 to 2000, he worked for the International Monetary Fund as an economist.

In April 2000, he was appointed Minister of Economy and Finance in the second government of Prime Minister Moustapha Niasse and remained in this position until May 2001. During the period, Diop chaired the Council of Ministers of the West African Economic and Monetary Union.

Diop joined the World Bank in 2001 and was appointed by the then World Bank President Robert Zoellick as the institution’s Vice President for Africa, responsible for sub-Saharan countries.

For the number of years Diop has worked with the World Bank, he has served in several positions. He was Country Director for Kenya, Somalia and Eritrea; Sector Director for Finance, Private Sector and Infrastructure for Latin America and the Caribbean; Director of Operations and Strategy for Latin America and the Caribbean; and Country Director for Brazil.

The World Bank’s Country Partnership Strategy (2012-2015) for Brazil was developed under Diop’s leadership.

Record-breaking $70bn

One of the many achievements of Diop while he served in several positions at the World Bank was the fact that he oversaw the delivery of a record-breaking $70 billion to sub-Saharan Africa to help tackle development challenges such as increasing access to affordable and sustainable energy; boosting women’s and youth’s economic empowerment; and promoting an enabling environment for more innovation and technology adoption.

A passionate advocate for Africa’s right to clean and affordable sources of electricity, he also called for greater investment in renewable energy and pushed for greater regional interconnectivity in the power and transport sectors. No wonder he was appointed in 2018 as the Vice President for Infrastructure. He is in charge of the World Bank portfolio for Energy & Extractives, Transport, Digital Development, Infrastructure Finance, Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), and Guarantees.

100 most influential Africans

A recognized opinion leader in the economic and social development field, Diop has been named one of the 100 most influential Africans in the world. Among other recognitions, Dipo, in 2015, received the prestigious Regents’ Lectureship Award from the University of California, Berkeley.

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