Bill and Melinda Gates appoint Senegalese to head foundation in Africa

Cheikh Oumar Seydi, former Regional Director of the sub-Sahara Africa office of the International Finance Corporation has been announced as the Africa Director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Seydi, who hails from Senegal, will now be in charge of the foundation’s work as it seeks to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in many African countries.

The former IFC executive is joining at a time when the Gates Foundation is looking to expand its projects on the continent.

Speaking on the appointment, Chris Elias who is the foundation’s Global Development President, highlighted the experience of Mr Seydi as key to the decision.

“Oumar brings extensive experience working across Africa, leading high-performing teams through extensive growth and partnerships across both the public and private sector,” said Elias. “He will play a central role in the foundation’s work across the world’s second largest continent.”

Seydi brings along with him more than two decades of experience working for the socio-economic development of the continent. Prior to his role as Regional director of IFC’s sub-Sahara office, he was the organisation’s Director for East and Southern Africa, and also the global director for human resources in IFC offices around the world.

As regional director, he was responsible for the management of IFC’s investment and advisory operations in 49 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. This culminated in 2018 with the African region of the IFC becoming its largest annual investment program with a worth of more than $6 billion, and with further $4 billion investments secured from private sector actors.

Seydi expressed his excitement to be appointed to lead the Gates Foundation as it strives to achieve development goals.

“I am looking forward to working with our partners and exploring new strategies that will help increase the foundation’s impact on the continent,” he said.

He will direct the Foundation’s projects in sub-Saharan Africa, especially in Ethiopia and Nigeria, the two most populous African countries. In the past two years, the African office of the Gates Foundation has doubled in size, owing to the scale of work that needs to be done to address the worsening health indices, escalating poverty and induce economic growth across the continent.