Vera Songwe is an economist and banking executive from Cameroon who has worked for the World Bank since 1998, and in 2015 became Western and Central Africa’s regional director for the International Finance Corporation. She is the first woman to head the U.N.s Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) at the level of Under Secretary-General.
Songwe holds a PhD in Mathematical Economics from the Center for Operations Research and Econometrics and a Master of Arts in Law and Economics and a Diplôme d’études approfondies in Economic Science and Politics from the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Political Science from the University of Michigan.
Songwe worked for the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, and simultaneously had a visiting professor’s appointment at the University of Southern California.
In 1998 Songwe joined the World Bank, where she worked in the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management (PREM) unit, covering Morocco and Tunisia. Over the subsequent years, she filled several roles in the PREM unit for East Asia and the Pacific region. In 2010, Songwe was part of the World Bank Group team that raised a historic US$49.3 billion dollars in concessional financing for the low income countries of the world as part of the International Development Association (IDA) 16th replenishment.
From 2011 to 2015 Songwe was Regional Director Africa covering West and Central Africa for the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and Country Director for Senegal, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Guinea Bissau, and Mauritania. Her main areas of interest are fiscal policy, innovative financing mechanisms for development, agriculture, energy and economic governance.
In July 2015 Songwe was appointed Regional Director of the IFC for West and Central Africa.
Songwe took up her role as the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) on 3 August 2017 at the level of Under Secretary-General.