Ms. Antoinette Sayeh, Director of the African Department at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), has notified IMF Managing Director, Christine Lagarde of her intention, to retire from the Fund, effective August 31, 2016.
“As the Director of the African Department for the past eight years, Antoinette has been enormously influential in cementing the IMF’s relations with our African member countries,” Ms. Lagarde said.
Ms. Sayeh joined the IMF in July 2008, just as surging food and fuel prices and the global financial crisis were undercutting living standards on the African continent.
“Antoinette navigated these and later challenges with her trademark skills of quiet, effective diplomacy, deep analytical capability, and an unrivalled understanding of the challenges facing her continent,” Ms. Lagarde added.
Ms. Sayeh’s approach was shaped by her own experience as Finance Minister of Liberia during 2006-08 when she led efforts to clear her country’s debt arrears as it emerged from a decade of civil war, and her 17 years of experience at the World Bank.
She and her team contributed to the reform of the Fund’s concessional lending facilities in 2010, and subsequently, the reform of the Fund’s debt limits policy. More reforms have since followed, including the changes that enabled the Fund to provide emergency financing and debt relief to the three countries hit by the Ebola crisis in 2014.
She also oversaw efforts to improve the effectiveness of the Fund’s technical assistance in Africa, with a sharper focus on institution building, especially in fragile states.
Ms. Lagarde said that Ms. Sayeh “has been a great leader of the African Department, a respected colleague, a friend and a mentor to many. Her dedication is unparalleled and her contribution to the Fund has been truly outstanding.”
The search process to identify a successor to Ms. Sayeh will begin right away.