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World Bank names new director for East Africa office

Monday September 7, 2020

Keith Hansen has been appointed as World Bank's country director for Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia and Uganda. PHOTO | COURTESY

The World Bank has appointed Keith Hansen as the new country director for Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, and Uganda effective September 8.

The change of guard comes in the wake of increased lending from the Bank to the region with a project portfolio currently estimated at Sh1.3 trillion.

The American Ivy League lawyer and political scientist has more than 30 years experience in development practice with most of it gained from various roles at the World Bank.

He joins the region when economic activity has dipped in the wake of Covid-19 and the World Bank expects to play a key role in the revival of economies battered by the pandemic.

“His appointment comes at a time when the governments of Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, and Uganda are confronting both the immediate and longer-term health and economic impacts of the Covid-19 crisis. He is expected to contribute to achieving sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction, with a specific emphasis on Covid-19 recovery,” read the statement announcing his appointment.

The World Bank expects Kenya’s economic growth at 1.5 percent this year, from 5.4 percent in 2019, and contraction of 1.5 percent in the worst-case scenario under the impact of coronavirus.

Kenya has limited room to navigate the crisis after years of increased borrowing to fund a range of infrastructure projects.

Early this year, the World Bank approved a $1 billion loan (Sh108 billion) for Kenya to help it close a gaping budget deficit and tackle the economic shocks from the coronavirus pandemic, both sides said on Wednesday.

The loan initiated before the health crisis started is the second ever such direct lending for the budget from the World Bank after the first was processed last year.

Mr Hansen will replace Carlos Felipe Jaramillo who has been transferred to be the World Bank Vice President for the Latin America and the Caribbean Region. His portfolio will triple in the 31 countries where some $32 billion projects are ongoing.

The new East African WB boss has previously served in Africa, Latin American, and the Caribbean, his latest role being a senior adviser.


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