The U.K. Department for International Development has appointed its first head of economic development, cementing its growing focuses on creating jobs and boosting growth in partner countries.
The position will be held by David Kennedy, the current chair of the U.K. Committee on Climate Change. He has done strategy and investment work at multilateral institutions such as the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. In 2012, Kennedy was seen as a strong contender to lead the country’s energy and climate change department, a position he didn’t end up getting.
Now, his economic and business skills — as well as management expertise — will be put to the test as he takes on the role of director-general for economic development at DfID on June 16. He is expected to, among other things, scale up the agency’s work in this area and bring coherence and some form of structure across the different departments handling private sector work. In a recent review, the Independent Commission for Aid Impact noted how difficult it is to trace DfID’s private sector spending because of how spread-out it is across departments. For instance, while the agency has a private sector department, some programs aimed at business environment reform are under the Growth and Resilience Department.
Kennedy’s appointment is timely as the aid agency plans to increase its spending on economic development to 1.8 billion pounds ($3.03 billion) by 2015-16. Together with Kennedy, DfID will welcome a new set of business advisers and development experts from big consultancy firms such as PricewaterhouseCoopers and SGV, a member firm of Ernst & Young Global, could help by providing their expertise.
In its review, ICAI suggested that while DfID has added private sector advisers lately, most of them do “not have the appropriate type of skill sets and experience to advise on current and future challenges.”
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