This Ghanaian woman is carving out a niche in the World Bank’s East Asia and Pacific region

On the 15th of April 2015, the World Bank Group president, Jim Yong Kim, announced the appointment of  Victoria Kwakwa as the new regional vice president for the World Bank’s East Asia and Pacific region. Kwakwa, who is Ghanaian, will lead the bank’s advisory and lending operations in the region and oversee strategic engagement with the region’s 23 member countries. The Bank’s lending in East Asia Pacific is expected to reach $7.5 billion in the fiscal year ending June 30.

“The appointment of Victoria Kwakwa to this role ensures a seamless leadership transition for this region of increasing importance to the World Bank Group. She knows the region well and has been part of our efforts in bringing about change at a time when East Asia Pacific has been rapidly developing and playing a pivotal global role,” said Kim.

Her major areas of work have been in Africa and East Asia, where she worked as a member of the economic team on Vietnam in the late 1990s, overseeing a multi billion-dollar lending portfolio and an innovative knowledge program.

Victoria Kwakwa’s rise to success

Kwakwa has a Bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Ghana, Legon and earned a Master’s and Doctorate degree from Queen’s University in Canada. She joined the Bank as a young professional in 1989 and worked on the 2000-2001 World Development Report on Poverty. She rose to the position of a senior economist and lead economist in Abuja, Nigeria, where she worked from 2000 to 2006. As a senior and lead economist, she set up a program of state-level analytical work and provided policy advice on how to efficiently and transparently manage oil revenues.

While in Nigeria, she also worked with the Country Director to deepen the Bank’s engagement at the level of individual states, undertaking analytical work on fiscal decentralisation and state public expenditure.

Prior to her current assignment, just before moving to Hanoi, Mrs. Kwakwa was the Bank’s country manager for Rwanda, for two years. She managed the World Bank’s program on Rwanda, working with the government to design and pilot programs in social protection, health financing, agriculture productivity and decentralisation.

Recently, she led a joint-team with the government to produce the Vietnam 2035 Report, which presents options for Vietnam to achieve its ambitious goal of becoming an upper-middle-income country in a generation.

“I look forward to working with our client countries to maintain their competitiveness and economic dynamism while tackling challenges including urbanisation, vulnerability to climate change, rapid ageing and rising inequality. I am confident that the region will continue to find innovative solutions that will resonate around the world,” said Kwakwa.

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