Meet the New World Bank Vice President for Africa

The World Bank Group on Monday appointed Egyptian and French national Hafez Ghanem as the new World Bank Vice President for Africa. Prior to this appointment, Ghanem whose appointment is with effect from July 1 was the Vice President of the World Bank for the Middle East and North Africa, a post he held since March 2, 2015. He takes over from Senegalese Makhtar Diop who has held the position for six years.

According to a press release by the World Bank, Ghanem is a development expert with over 30 years of experience in policy analysis, project formulation and supervision, and management of multinational institutions. He will lead an active regional portfolio consisting of over 600 projects totalling more than $71 billion. 

The Bank further revealed that under Ghanem’s leadership, the World Bank will continue to support inclusive growth and poverty reduction by financing projects that boost human capital, support private sector development, raise agricultural productivity, improve access to infrastructure, build resilience to climate change, and promote regional integration.   Priority will be given to projects and programs that provide economic opportunities for youth and that promote gender equality.  The World Bank will also intensify its work in fragile and conflict-affected states.

Ghanem’s achievements

Ghanem born in March 1957 holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Economics from the American University in Cairo and a PhD in Economics from the University of California, Davis.  

Ghanem joined the World Bank in 1983 as a Young Professional and worked as a research economist before moving on to senior economist roles in West Africa and South Asia. He worked in several Bank operations and initiatives in over 20 countries in Africa, Europe and Central Asia, Middle East and North Africa, and Southeast Asia. His previous positions at the World Bank include: Country Director for Nigeria where he led a multinational team of more than 100 professionals, managing the Bank’s loan portfolio of some USD 1.5 billion; Country Director for Madagascar, Comoros, Mauritius and Seychelles; and Sector Leader for Public Economics and Trade Policy in the Europe and Central Asia Region. He left the bank in 2007 before returning in 2015. Prior to his return in 2015, Ghanem was a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution in the Global Economy and Development program leading the Arab economies project, focused on the impact of political transition on Arab economic development from 2012 to 2015.

Between 2007 and 2012, he served as the Assistant Director-General at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) where he was responsible for the Economic and Social Development Department and FAO’s analytical work on agricultural economics and food security, trade and markets, gender and equity, and statistics. While in FAO Ghanem and his counterpart in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development coordinated the preparation of the International Organizations’ recommendations to the 2011 G20 meeting on how to respond to the global food crisis.  He also led the reforms of the Committee on World Food Security to make it more inclusive and responsive to country needs.