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New World Bank Director of Timor-Leste, PNG & Pacific: Pacific ‘full of extraordinary possibilities’

November 22, 2016

SYDNEY, November 22, 2016 – The World Bank has officially welcomed new Country Director for Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands, Michel Kerf, who says the potential for the region is huge for significant development and economic growth.     

Michel Kerf will oversee the World Bank’s regional portfolio of 55 projects across 13 countries worth more than US$1 billion, supporting Pacific Island governments across a range of sectors, including information communications and technology, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction, fisheries, aviation, education, health and infrastructure.

“The coming years are set to be an extraordinary time in the Pacific region” said Mr. Kerf. “The Pacific Islands, PNG and Timor-Leste all have huge opportunities for transformational development – opportunities we are now exploring through our future-focused report series, ‘Pacific Possible’. I am excited to continue our work with governments, regional organizations and development partners as we strive to support the Pacific make these possibilities a reality.”

“I’d also like to take the opportunity to thank my predecessor, Franz Drees-Gross, whose work over the past three years has helped broaden and deepen our engagement in the Pacific region in many areas, including climate and disaster resilience, fisheries and connectivity,” said Mr. Kerf. “I look forward to continuing to grow the strong and successful partnerships we have forged across the region.”

Having commenced his new role September 1, 2016, Michel Kerf brings more than 22 years of World Bank experience to the role, including four years in the Pacific, where he was most recently Transport Practice Manager for East Asia and Pacific Region. During his time in the region, Mr. Kerf has been actively involved in transport and infrastructure projects across the region, including road rehabilitations in Fiji, Kiribati, PNG and Samoa, and aviation works in Kiribati, Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu.

Michel Kerf has held the roles of Sector Manager, Sustainable Development, for Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste and the Pacific Islands; Sector Leader for Sustainable Development in Peru and in Argentina; Infrastructure Policy Advisor in the Sustainable Development Department of the East Asia and Pacific Region; and Senior Private Sector Development Specialist in the Middle East and North Africa Region.

Michel, a Belgian national, graduated in Law from the University of Liège, Belgium, and obtained a Master of Science in Economics from the London School of Economics. He has taught as Visiting Professor at the University of Liège and at the College of Europe in Bruges. He is also the author of several publications on subjects related to concessions, privatization, and competitiveness of infrastructure services. 

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