The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has nominated Khawaja Aftab Ahmed as its Regional Director for the Middle East, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
He will lead IFC’s efforts to increase private sector participation in the economy to create jobs, address the climate crisis, close the infrastructure gap, foster financial inclusion, and support fragile and conflict-affected situations.
Ahmed is stepping into a region whose economy is still recovering from the effects of the pandemic. The Middle East’s economy grew by an estimated 3.1 percent in 2021 after contracting 3.6 percent in 2020. Pakistan’s economy was also affected by the pandemic, while political instability has pushed Afghanistan into an economic and humanitarian crisis.
As Regional Director, his priorities will include supporting private sector development in fragile and conflict-affected situations, helping countries counter and adapt to climate change, and creating economic opportunities for women, youth, and other underserved groups.
“The public sector can no longer be the main provider of jobs in the region, especially today, given the deep fiscal constraints facing most governments in the wake of COVID-19,” he said and added that he is “excited to lead IFC’s efforts to support private sector clients, spur innovation, and create positive, lasting impact in such a critical region”.
The IFC supports the growth of the private sectors in the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Pakistan through a combination of investments and advisory services to create jobs, improve essential services (like power delivery), and foster financial inclusion. Its portfolio in the region is valued at $3.4 billion and is spread across 139 companies in the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
The IFC’s Regional Vice President for the Middle East, Central Asia, Turkey, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, Hela Cheikhrouhou, commented that she is keen to work closely with Ahmed to boost the IFC’s operations and impact in “this very important, diverse, and promising region.”
“His in-depth knowledge of the region, combined with his expertise across different sectors and products, will be a tremendous asset as IFC ramps up its business in the Middle East, Pakistan, and Afghanistan,” she added.
Khawaja Aftab Ahmed, a Pakistani national, has 33 years of development banking experience. He holds a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering from Pakistan’s NED University of Engineering and Technology and an MBA in Finance from the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) in Karachi. He has held several managerial positions at the IFC and most recently served as its Global Director of Investment and Credit Risk.
Prior to this, Ahmed had led the IFC’s work with financial institutions and private equity funds in the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe, where he managed a $6 billion portfolio spread across 45 countries. He is also extensively experienced in frontier markets, where he had helped to promote innovative financial instruments and Islamic financing tools.