THE World Bank Group has appointed Eneida Fernandes as the new country manager for Zimbabwe at a time the country is battling an unsustainable debt overhang. Fernandes takes over from Marjorie Mpundu who completed her tour of duty in May, less than two years after her appointment.
Mpundu took up a new role as the multilateral lender’s legal counsel for Africa in Washington DC. Fernandes told The NewsHawks on the sidelines of a tour of the Kariba Dam Rehabilitation Project this week that she had jetted into the country last Saturday and was not attending the World Bank/International Monetary Fund meetings in Marrakech, Morocco.
According to the World Bank Group, Fernandes has more than 20 years of experience in international development, of which the last 11 years have been with the multilateral lender. She has since held several positions in Africa and Latin America, including senior private sector specialist in the Africa region in the Finance, Competitiveness and Innovation Global Practice.
Her recent expertise includes the implementation of integrated jobs and economic development operations and advisory solutions for client countries in Latin America and Africa focusing on private sector-led and value chain development (tourism and agribusiness), entrepreneurship and small and medium enterprise development, enabling policy and regulatory environment for business and investments.
Prior to joining the World Bank Group, Eneida occupied various technical and managerial positions in hospitality and tourism development in the US and Brazil. Zimbabwe, currently ineligible to access loans from the World Bank Group, owes the Bretton Woods institution nearly US$2 billion and has been in arrears since the turn of the millennium.
The debt-ridden government now relies on domestic resources such as taxes, debt instruments and expensive loans to finance some of its capital projects.
Official figures show that World Bank Group assistance to Zimbabwe totalled US$1.6 billion between 1980 and 2000. Direct lending was suspended due to non-repayment of arrears.
However, the World Bank remains fully engaged through trust funds such as the Zimbabwe Reconstruction Fund (Zimref) and the Global Financing Facility.
The World Bank is currently administering Zimref that was established in 2014 to strengthen the country’s systems for reconstruction and development. Zimref has multi-sectoral projects that support the business environment, gender, education, public financial management, climate change, state-owned enterprises and poverty monitoring.
The US$150 million World Bank country portfolio also includes the Zimbabwe Idai Recovery Project, the Health Sector Development Project and the Kariba Dam Rehabilitation Project.
The portfolio also includes the International Finance Corporation’s advisory programmes, namely the Victoria Falls Tourism Destination Programme, Health Care Quality Assurance Assessment and Zimbabwe Warehouse Receipts Programme.