World Bank appoints new country director for Nigeria

The World Bank has announced the appointment of a new Country Director for Nigeria and Coordinating Director for West Africa Regional Integration.

A statement issued by the bank in Abuja on Monday named the new director as Rachid Benmessaoud.

Benmessaoud joined the World Bank in 1990 as an energy planner in the then Europe, Middle East and North Africa Vice-Presidency, the bank said.

He takes over from Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly, whose tenure ended in July.

A Moroccan, Benmessaoud has held various positions in the bank, including lead energy specialist, operations advisor for India, with his most recent assignment being the country director for Pakistan.

Benmessaoud will lead the country programme and team to continue to improve the impact of the World Bank’s portfolio in Nigeria and to support the government’s development priorities, including power, education, quality of public spending, trade and regional integration, the bank said.

He had worked on energy, infrastructure and municipal finance projects in North Africa, Central Europe and South Asia, according to the statement.

The new country director is an electrical engineer and has a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the United States of America and a doctorate degree in Engineering from France.

According to the World Bank, Benmessaoud’s appointment becomes effective from October 1, 2015.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s immediate past Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has been appointed into two international positions.

She is to serve as Chair of the 28-member Board of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, an international public-private partnership committed to saving the lives of children and protecting people’s health by improving access to immunisation in developing countries, including Nigeria.

Okonjo-Iweala was elected to the position after a competitive international search process, a statement by her Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Paul Nwabuikwu, said.

GAVI is a $12bn multilateral partnership that disburses grants of upwards of $1.8bn annually to developing countries for immunisation programmes.

It brings together developing countries and donor governments, the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry in both industrialised and developing countries, research and technical agencies, civil society, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other private philanthropists.

The former managing director of the World Bank has also joined the global investment firm, Lazard, as Senior Advisor. Her focus will be sovereign advisory.

On the appointment, the Global Head of M&A and Sovereign Advisory, Lazard, Matthieu Pigasse, said, “We are proud to welcome Dr. Okonjo-Iweala as a senior advisor to our world-leading sovereign advisory group.”

He added that the former minister would bring a unique international expertise and experience that would benefit both sovereign and corporate clients of the organisation.


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