Keith Hansen named World Bank director for East Africa

Mr. Keith Hansen, the new World Bank Director for East Africa.
Mr. Keith Hansen, the new World Bank Director for East Africa. PHOTO/COURTESY

American Ivy League lawyer and political scientist Keith Hansen has been named World Bank Director for East Africa, effective September 8.

Mr. Hansen will take over from Carlos Felipe Jaramillo who has been tasked to lead the global lender’s Latin America and Caribbean regions as Vice President.

Mr. Hansen’s appointment comes in the wake of increased lending from the Bank to the East Africa region with a project portfolio currently valued at Ksh. 1.3 trillion. The appointment also coincides with the fact that economic activity in the region has dropped owing to the Covid-19 pandemic and Mr. Hansen is anticipated to steer the lender as it seeks to resuscitate East African economies affected 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 new World Bank director for East Africa has three decades of experience in development practice with most of it accrued from serving in different positions and departments at the World Bank. Prior to his appointment, Mr. Hansen served as a senior adviser in the World Bank’s Africa, Latin America, and Caribbean regions.

Projections from the World Bank estimate Kenya’s economy to grow by 1.5 percent this year up from 5.4 percent in 2019. The growth might however decrease owing to Covid-19 interruptions.  Kenya has a narrow room to circumnavigate the crisis after years of amplified borrowing to fund a range of infrastructure projects.

Early this year, the global lender loaned Kenya Ksh. 108 billion (USD 1 billion) to assist the country in mitigating the economic effects of Covid-19. The loan was the second direct cash advance that the global lender has sanctioned to Kenya after the first was approved in 2019.

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