Guang Zhe Chen is the newly appointed Country Director for South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe from July 1, 2015, based in Pretoria. In this position, he will lead the development and implementation of the World Bank’s country partnership strategies for seven countries across southern Africa.
Prior to taking up this post, Chen served as the World Bank’s Country Director for Ethiopia, a position he held since 2011, where he oversaw the implementation of a portfolio of investment and trust fund projects valued at over $6 billion, as well as a robust program of analytical works and technical assistance. These covered a range of sectors including agriculture, social protection and infrastructure, as well as knowledge services and technical assistance programs.
An economist by training, Chen has over 20 years of international experience in the field of sustainable development finance and infrastructure management with the World Bank Group and the Asian Development Bank. Before becoming country director, he rose through the ranks of the World Bank to serve as a World Bank sector manager for 10 years in three different sectors namely: transport, water supply and sanitation and urban development including disaster management in two regions, Latin American and Caribbean and in South Asia. He initially worked as a transport economist in 1997 when he joined the World Bank, then as a program leader and as a task team leader leading tasks for lending, supervision, and economic sector work and technical assistance activities.
Prior to the World Bank, Chen worked as a project economist in the Asian Development Bank for more than five years and as a financial market consultant having joined the Asian Development Bank as a Young Professional in 1992.
In addition, Chen served as a member of the high-level expert group appointed by the Provincial Government of Guangdong Province, China, advising the Guangdong Government in its implementation of its Development Vision 2020 for the Pearl River Delta Area, which was the fastest growing region in the world from 1980-2010. He has also been a consistent participant in selected international conferences as a keynote speaker since 2002.
Chen is a Chinese national. He holds a graduate degree in Economics from Harvard University, USA, and an M.A. and B.A. in Economics from Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China.