Khawaja Aftab Ahmed has been named Regional Director for the Middle East, Pakistan, and Afghanistan by the International Finance Corporation (IFC).
He will lead the IFC’s efforts to increase private sector participation in the economy in order to create jobs, address the climate crisis, close infrastructure gaps, promote financial inclusion, and assist fragile and conflict-affected countries.
Ahmed is entering a region whose economy is still recovering from the pandemic’s effects. The Middle East’s economy is expected to grow by 3.1 percent in 2021, after contracting by 3.6 percent in 2020. The pandemic also had an impact on Pakistan’s economy, while political instability has pushed Afghanistan into an economic and humanitarian crisis.
His priorities as Regional Director will include supporting private sector development in fragile and conflict-affected areas, assisting countries in combating and adapting to climate change, and creating economic opportunities for women, youth, and other underserved groups.
“The public sector cannot be the sole provider of jobs in the region, especially given the deep fiscal constraints that most governments face in the aftermath of COVID-19,” he said, adding that he is “excited to lead IFC’s efforts to support private sector clients, spur innovation, and create positive, long-term impact in such a critical region.”
The IFC promotes private sector growth in the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Pakistan by combining investments and advisory services to create jobs, improve essential services (such as power delivery), and promote financial inclusion. Its portfolio in the region is worth $3.4 billion and consists of 139 companies spread across the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
Hela Cheikhrouhou, the IFC’s Regional Vice President for the Middle East, Central Asia, Turkey, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, stated that she is eager to collaborate with Ahmed to expand 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 multiple sectors and products, will be a tremendous asset as IFC expands its operations in the Middle East, Pakistan, and Afghanistan,” she added.
Khawaja Aftab Ahmed, a Pakistani national, has 33 years of experience in development banking. He has a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering from Pakistan’s NED University of Engineering and Technology, as well as an MBA in Finance from Karachi’s Institute of Business Administration (IBA). He has held a number of management positions at the IFC, most recently as Global Director of Investment and Credit Risk.
Prior to this, Ahmed was in charge of the IFC’s work with financial institutions and private equity funds in the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe, where he oversaw a $6 billion portfolio spread across 45 countries. He also has extensive experience in emerging markets, where he has assisted in the promotion of innovative financial instruments and Islamic financing tools.