The World Bank has appointed Paul Noumba Um as the new country director for seven African countries including Zimbabwe.
BY BUSINESS REPORTER
He replaces, Guangzhe Chen, who was appointed as senior director for the water global practice within sustainable development vice-presidency at the World Bank Group in October 2016.
The seven countries under Um’s purview are South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. He began work early this month.
A dual Cameroonian and French national, Um holds a PhD in Economics from Rennes University, and Master’s Degrees in Engineering and Economics from France, and a BA in Engineering from the Cameroonian National Post and Telecom School.
He joined the bank in 1998, holding positions at World Bank Institute, the Middle East/North Africa region, and finance and private sector development in Africa. Before his new assignment, Um was the country director for Mali, Niger and Chad.
“In his new position, Um’s top priorities include providing strategic leadership for formulating programmes that support the eradication of poverty and improve shared prosperity for the seven Southern African countries, foster relationships and work with internal and external development partners and stakeholders for better results,” the bank said.
Zimbabwe owes the World Bank Group $1,1 billion and has promised to pay the debt in the first quarter of 2017 to unlock fresh lines of credit to reboot the economy. Despite Zimbabwe failing to meet its obligations, the bank is providing technical assistance and analytical work.
The bank also administers the Zimbabwe Reconstruction Fund (Zimref), which seeks to contribute to the strengthening of Zimbabwe’s systems for reconstruction and development, with a focus on stabilisation and reform, development and poverty alleviation.
Zimref has received pledges and financial commitments of $40,4 million from the European Union, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the World Bank’s State and Peace Building Fund.