Junaid Ahmad, the former chief of staff for World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, has been appointed as World Bank’s new country director for India. 

Junaid Ahmad, a Bangladeshi economist, has taken over as the World Bank’s new country director for India, replacing Onno Ruhl who completed his four-year term.

Ahmad was formerly the chief of staff for World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim.

In making the appointment, Kim said, “I’m very pleased to announce Junaid Ahmad as World Bank’s new country director for India.”

In a statement, he said: “India’s recent growth and development has been one of the most significant achievements of our time.”

With historic changes unfolding and new opportunities emerging, Ahmad will bring to this key position strategic leadership along with considerable experience of working in both India and South Asia to support this transformation, Kim said.

Annette Dixon, World Bank’s vice-president for South Asia, said: “Junaid’s strong experience in the critical areas of water, urbanisation and social development will ensure that the bank’s future strategy for India is formulated and implemented in line with the country’s own development goals.” After joining the World Bank in 1991 as a young professional, he worked on infrastructure development in Africa and Eastern Europe.

He has since held several management positions, leading the bank’s programme in diverse regions including Africa, the Middle East and North Africa, as well as in India and South Asia.

He was based in New Delhi between 2000 and 2005 and played a leading role across a number of sectors, both in India and the region. He led the bank’s water and sanitation programme for South Asia before being appointed to head its social development portfolio. Following this, he steered the bank’s broader urban development programme in India and South Asia. During this period, Ahmad worked in the areas of infrastructure finance, dealing with the challenges of urbanisation and city management, delivering services in federal systems, as well as on issues concerning local government reforms.

Prior to joining the president’s office, Ahmad was a senior director at the World Bank, where he led the bank’s global engagement in the water sector.

He was one of the first to be selected to this post through a global competition. Ahmad moved to this position after holding charge of sustainable development for the bank’s Middle East and North Africa regions, where his work covered a broad array of sectors, including agriculture, environment and infrastructure.

Ahmad holds a PhD in applied economics from Stanford University, a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University, and a BA in economics from Brown University. India is the World Bank Group’s largest client. As of June 2016, the bank’s net commitments to the country stood at $27 billion across 95 projects.