By John Oyuke
World Bank (WB) former country director for Kenya, Makhtar Diop has formally taken over as the new Vice President for Africa.
The Senegalese national with more than 25 years of development experience, served previously Country Director for Brazil since 2009, where he managed the bank’s largest country programme.
He took over from Nigerian Ms Obiagele Ezekwesili on Monday. Ezekwesili who served in the Vice President’s capacity for five years, is to return to Nigeria this month, the bank said in a statement.
Diop, was a critic of the Kenya’s anti-corruption strategies but is also remembered for the greatest number of loans approved to Kenya. He welcomed the appointment saying, it is an honour to return to Africa as Vice-President.
He said he is returning at a time when the continent is on the rise, with strong growth led by private investments, and a new sense of optimism.
“With development knowledge and innovative financing, we can help support Africa’s momentum and ensure all Africans, especially the poor, share in the continent’s economic and social transformation,” he said.
The bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved new funding facilities for Kenya with the WB becoming the first multi-lateral lender to give grants to support the country’s free primary education.
However, in tough stance against graft, Diop ensured an active pursuit of WB officials implicated in a $115 million Kenya Urban Transport Infrastructure Project (KUTIP) and gave the strongest condemnation to reports of new graft within the government when reports emerged of a passport printing scandal.
“We consider the allegations of misprocurement of passport printing to reflect the kind of personal greed which drove Kenya into the ranks of the most corrupt nations in the world,” he said in reaction to the reports.
Prior to joining the bank, Diop worked at the IMF. He was also Senegal’s finance minister and chair of the West African Monetary Union board of finance ministers.
In 2011, the WB committed more than $ 7.0 billion in new development financing for Africa, and disbursed over $5.5 billion, in addition to producing more than 200 analytical studies.