Australia Awards Alumnus Serving at the World Bank HQ Keeps His Eyes on Africa

Although he works for the World Bank in Washington, D.C. as a Senior Financial Sector Specialist, Mozambican national Carlos Vicente has kept his commitment to sub-Saharan Africa.

After completing a Master’s degree in July 2007 at the Australian National University (ANU) on a scholarship funded by the Australian Government, Vicente started working at the World Bank to help governments in Cape Verde, Malawi, Mozambique, Sudan, and South Sudan develop their financial sectors to enable rapid growth and poverty reduction.

In his native country of Mozambique, Vicente worked with the Ministry of Planning and Development to design a “growth poles” project which will help local businesses and provincial governments benefit from foreign direct investment in natural resources.

The project will upgrade transport infrastructure and help farmers move their goods to consumer markets around mining projects in northern Mozambique. It will also equip the local labour force with skills mining companies need, such as welding and driving, as well as build the capacity of local governments to plan and deliver basic services like water and sanitation. The project was approved by the World Bank Board in April 2013 and implementation will start soon.

“My deep knowledge of Mozambique was useful during the design of the project, especially in aiding the discussion with local authorities,” says Vicente.

In 2010, Vicente also worked with the government of Malawi to design a financial sector development project that aims to increase access to finance for Malawians. He proposed measures to build the capacity of the financial sector policy unit of the Ministry of Finance. These measures included staff training and secondments, acquisition of equipment, and placement of external advisors within the Ministry. Vicente also held policy discussions with the Ministry of Finance and the Reserve Bank of Malawi on how to reform state-owned banks and strengthen the framework for long-term finance.

“There is no way I could have made these contributions without the skills and knowledge I gained in Australia,” says Vicente, who worked as a researcher at the Institute of Economic and Social Studies in Mozambique before joining the World Bank as a Senior Financial Sector Specialist.

Vicente has already proven that he is first among equals. In 2008, a year after completing his Masters in Australia, he was the first Mozambican to join the World Bank Group through its prestigious Young Professionals Program established in 1963. Vicente attributes this good fortune to the scholarship he received to study in Australia under the Australia Awards initiative.

“The good reputation of the ANU, coupled with my outstanding academic record and references from professors, gave me the credentials to compete against more than 10,000 candidates, and make it to the final 41.”

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