A Prestigious Appointment
Recently, Dr. Vera Songwe was appointed as the new Executive Secretary of the United Nation’s Economic Commission for Africa (the “ECA”). An economist with extensive experience directing policies relating to the World Bank’s activities in West Africa, she becomes the first African woman to hold the influential position. The United Nations Economic Commission For Africa issued a press release on its website discussing her appointment on April 17, 2017. The ECA press release states Dr. Songwe, from Cameroon, also serves as a non-resident Senior Fellow with the Brookings Institute.
The United Nations founded the ECA in 1958 in order to assist economic and social developments in 54 member nations in Africa. It claims to function as “an administrative arm” of the UN in the region. With offices in Ethiopia, Senegal, and several other African nations, the organization publishes extensive literature relating to Africa’s economy and regional development. The ECA’s website indicates Dr. Songwe will succeed an acting Executive Secretary, Dr. Abdalla Hamdock, who has administered the office since November 1, 2016. He has served as the Chief Economist of the ECA since 2011.
Dr. Songwe’s Background
Dr. Songwe, aged 42, has resided in the United States previously. After studying Political Science and Economics at the University of Michigan, she received a degree in Mathematical Economics from the Université Catholique of Louvain-la-Neuve in Belgium. She later attended the University of Southern California and also the Federal Reserve Bank in Minnesota as a Visiting Scholar before joining the World Bank.
Dr. Songwe has published extensively in her chosen field. Some of her articles relate to developing financial infrastructures. The ECA press release reports she served as the World Bank’s Lead Country Sector Coordinator between 2005 and 2008. She served as an Advisor to the Director of the World Bank from 2008 to 2011 and from 2012 until 2015 worked as the Country Director for five West African nations: Mauritania, Guinea Bissau, Cape Verde, The Gambia and Senegal. Most recently, she has served as a Regional Director for West and Central Africa for the International Finance Corporation.
Work For The Brookings Institution
The Brookings Institution, a Washington D.C.-based policy think tank, has published several of Dr. Songwe’s articles and blog posts concerning African development. The materials, which include Twitter posts, may shed light upon the policies she will pursue as the new Executive Secretary of the ECA. As the first African woman selected to lead the United Nations Economic Commission For Africa, her views will surely carry great influence in international policy discussions. She certainly possesses the qualifications required to espouse the cause of the impoverished populations so well-served by the ECA and the United Nations.