Mr Shantayanan Devarajan (Shanta Devarajan)
Chief Economist, Africa Region, World Bank
Place of Birth: Sri Lanka
The effects of the global slowdown on African economies have been
generally overlooked. The World Bank has responded with its advocacy of
more regional integration and infrastructure development, and a
proposal for the G-20 summit in London on 2 April 2009 that 0.7% of rich
countries' stimulus packages should go to poorer countries. As Chief
Economist for the Bank's Africa Region, Shanta Devarajan is the public face of its efforts.
A brainy econometrist, Devarajan is a busy blogger: he uses his
'AfricaCan' blog on the World Bank website to stimulate debate and
publicise new research. An engaging campaigner for new thinking on
development economics, he has won over several sceptical policymakers
and academics. He stresses the human impact of the economic crisis
rather than the effects on the big banks' balance sheets. The crisis is
'not remotely Africa's fault', and Shanta argues that African
governments have the least latitude to deal with its consequences.
Originally from Sri Lanka, Shanta studied
mathematics at Princeton University and earned his PhD in economics
from the University of California, Berkeley. He left the faculty of
Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of
Government to join the World Bank in 1991. He has been Chief Economist
of the Bank's Human Development Network, which crafts strategies to
improve health, education and relieve poverty.
Shanta was Chief Economist for South Asia before moving to the Africa section in January 2008. With Finland's Ritva Reinikka, he led the writing of the World Development Report 2004 and edited the World Bank Research Observer.