World Bank’s new vice-president for Africa Makhtar Diop took over office today to oversee its activities on the continent. Mr Diop, a Senegalese citizen with over 25 year’s development experience, replaces Obiageli Ezekwesili at the helm of the African continent.

In a statement, Diop said that he felt honoured to return to Africa when the continent’s growth is on upsurge, pledging to steer it to greater heights. He cited the private sector as one of the engines to realize the visions set by African states. “It is an honor to return to the Africa region as Vice-President at a time when the continent is on the rise. With strong growth led by private investment, there is a new sense of optimism,” said Diop.

He identified world class development knowledge and innovative financing as the key pillars to keep the economy growing and uplift the lives of the poor in the continent. “With world-class development knowledge and innovative financing, we can help support Africa’s momentum and ensure that all Africans, especially the poor, share in the continent’s economic and social transformation,” he added.

Diop has been working as the Country Director for Brazil since 2009, managing the World Bank’s largest country programme, before his appointment. Prior to joining the Bank, Diop worked at the International Monetary Fund and served as Minister of Finance of Senegal, and as Chair of the West African Monetary Union (WAEMU) Board of Finance Ministers.

After joining the World Bank in 2001, Makhtar Diop held various senior positions, including Country Director for Kenya, Eritrea and Somalia, as well as Director of Infrastructure and Director of Strategy and Operations in the Bank’s Latin America and Caribbean region. In the 2011 financial year, World Bank committed more than US$ 7.0 billion in new development financing for Africa, and disbursed over US$5.5 billion, in addition to producing more than 200 analytical studies.

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