Marie Francoise: The New Director of World Bank in Nigeria

marieShe just resumed in Nigeria and the first remark from her was a genuine and sincere advice to the government. She admonished the Federal Government to handle the issue of oil subsidy removal with caution. She added that if the issue was not handled properly, it might cause a series of crises that would hamper the country’s economy.

The warning came from the newly appointed World Bank Country Director, Ms Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly Speaking during an interactive session with newsmen in Abuja. She stressed further on the need for the Federal Government to articulate its policies very well and carry everybody along.

According to her, Nigerians should be able to know where the proceeds of oil subsidy removal would be deployed, with a view to knowing that the subsidy would be used to protect the poor.

The new Country Director also said that World Bank had earmarked $4 billion for 25 projects in Nigeria, adding that only 40 per cent of it had been disbursed.

The World Bank chief also slammed Nigeria over its poor record of performance in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), saying that achieving the MDGs target looked very uncertain. She said it was regrettable that the Democratic Republic of Congo, which spends as little  as $13 per capita on the MDG goals, performed better in the performance index of the MDGs than Nigeria which spends $45 per person on the same goals.

The Economic Confidential magazine gathered that prior to assuming her new position as the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, she served as Country Director for the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where she helped deliver the largest debt relief package in the history of the HIPC initiative ($12.3 billion for DR Congo). She takes over from Onno Ruhl who has resumed his new position at the World Bank Headquarters in Washington, DC. 

A French citizen, Ms. Marie-Nelly joined the World Bank in 1994 after working in Europe and Africa for 13 years in various capacities, both in government and in the private sector.  Since joining the Bank, Ms. Marie-Nelly has worked extensively on private sector development issues. Her areas of expertise include regional integration, with particular focus on regional infrastructure; infrastructure-related regulatory reform; public enterprise reform; private sector development; as well as management of petroleum resources. Noteworthy among her achievements are her contributions to the restructuring/privatization of a number of state-owned enterprises in West Africa (Burkina Faso, Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Mauritania and Togo), as well as to the liberalization of the telecommunications and air transport sectors in Africa.

Between 2000 and 2004, Ms. Marie-Nelly served as Program Manager in charge of regional integration and cooperation in the Office of the Vice President for Africa. In that capacity, she was instrumental in the development of a strategic framework to promote deeper regional integration in Sub Saharan Africa in order to address the fragmentation of the continent which inhibits its ability to attract significant investments and to compete on global markets.

From 2004 to 2007, she served as Senior Program Manager for the Chad-Cameroon Pipeline Project, a private sector- led endeavor supported by the World Bank Group.  During this period, she led the dialogue with the Chadian authorities and other stakeholders on the management of oil revenues and their allocation to priority sectors such as health, education, infrastructure and rural development as well as on compliance with social and environmental standards.

On the appointment of the new Director, the Vice President Africa Region of the World Bank, Ms Obiageli K. Ezekwesili said Marie Francoise’s priorities would be to lead the Bank’s Country Team to continue to improve the impact of the Bank’s large portfolio in Nigeria in supporting the Government’s development priorities including education, the power sector, and trade and regional integration. She would also work with the Government of Nigeria to further consolidate macroeconomic gains by improving budget allocation as well as the quality of public spending; and lead and support staff in implementing the priorities of the new Africa Strategy while adjusting to corporate realities and opportunities.

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