Chief Executive Officer of AFD

Rémy Rioux

«To continue to keep the values of solidarity and resistance alive»
Rémy Rioux, AFD Chief Executive Officer
Rémy Rioux is the chief executive officer of the Agence Française de Développement (AFD). During his career, Rémy Rioux, Senior Advisor at the Court of Auditors, has alternately held responsibilities in France and to support development in Africa. He works for France’s economic and financial policy and conducted control missions in the energy and defense sectors at the Court of Auditors from 1997 to 2000, and subsequently from 2002 to 2004.

AFD’s 75th anniversary

AFD has just celebrated its 75th anniversary. This event was marked by the signing of an alliance with Caisse des Dépôts, the presentation of a new strategic project, and a new image for AFD. A new era? An interview with Rémy Rioux.
Rémy Rioux pour les 75 ans de l'AFD au Quai Branly

Last June, you charted an ambitious way forward for AFD. Where do we stand six months on?

When I arrived as head of AFD, I expressed the will to build a larger, more partnership-oriented, more responsive and more innovative agency. This is the mandate which the highest authorities of the State have now entrusted us with: the French President has confirmed that our annual commitments will increase from EUR 8bn a year to EUR 12bn by 2020, the Prime Minister and Government expressed their confidence in us during the Interministerial International Cooperation and Development Committee meeting on 30 November 2016, and the Parliament is currently voting for additional resources for us.

In practical terms, the new AFD will do more for the climate, a major challenge of this century (from EUR 3bn to EUR 5bn). There will be more grants, for the most fragile countries, with a facility of EUR 100m a year to take action in crisis-stricken areas. We will do more in the French overseas territories, by doubling our loans in order to invest in these remarkable territories of innovation, at the center of the Republic and very close to our partners in the South. We will be investing in new fields which the Government has just entrusted us with, such as governance, higher education and research, or cultural and creative industries. We will be working even more with all development actors to fight against poverty, non-sovereign actors in particular, which already account for 50% of our financing: NGOs, the private sector, French and foreign local authorities. We will also be doing more in France, thanks to the alliance with Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations, and because development education for the French is part of our new mandate.

Signature Alliance AFD CDC

In what way is AFD’s strategy in line with the international agenda?

In 2015, the international community led development into a new era. Universal objectives (Sustainable Development Goals), more public and private financing (Addis Ababa Conference), multi-actor networks and a framework applicable to all (such as the Paris Agreement): Official Development Assistance (ODA) takes on its full meaning in this new equation. It is a tool for solidarity which is going to be scaled up, a social and financial utility, with a capacity to mobilize which we cannot gauge today.
Building on a renewed mandate, increased resources, a mobilization of our partners and increasing support from the French, AFD is going to fully play its role in this new international environment. It will continue to keep the values of solidarity and resistance alive, which it draws from its origins, as we are the oldest development institution, created in London in 1941 by General de Gaulle. At the same time, we need to anticipate and innovate, by seeking to become the youngest and most creative development bank, because in 2016, the world of development assistance is bustling with activity. It is a "hive" where actors, investors, researchers and projects come together and where solutions thrive, in both directions. 

We have just celebrated our 75th anniversary with a week of reflection and exchanges, on the history of AFD, on the theory of the commons and its potential applications for development, on overseas France, at the center of the challenges of tomorrow. On 6 December, we signed a Strategic Alliance Charter with Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations and gathered all our partners at the Musée du Quai Branly, in the presence of the French President. This gives us strength and pride.

Indeed, Pierre-René Lemas and yourself signed a Strategic Alliance Charter with Caisse des Dépôts during this 75th anniversary, in the presence of the French President. What is it going to change? 

Caisse des Dépôts needs an international dimension, and we need a stronger link with our own country. We are going to align our strategies, create common financial instruments, such as an investment fund for infrastructure in Africa, and conduct staff exchanges, which will open up richer career paths. Caisse des Dépôts has a tremendous network in France, and we have a formidable international network, in 90 countries, which we are going to connect together. 

“A Common World”, finally, is not yet “a communal world”. The subtle difference between the two speaks volumes, marks the road which still lies ahead, and expresses movement, effort, action. It compels us to achieve the five major transitions we are all engaged in and which are set out in AFD’s strategy

Rémy Rioux
“A Common World” is AFD’s new motto. What does it mean?
“A Common World” reflects the opinion of the French, who are informed and have a sense of solidarity.

77% of them think that what happens in the South will have consequences on their life in France. 70% of them support our country’s development policy and are in favor of maintaining or increasing its resources. In a period of crisis, it is a strong message which honors us and gives us obligations.

“A Common World” is also a way of expressing the pressing need to come up with new economic and governance models to preserve our common goods, these local or global resources which neither the State nor the market will be able to regulate single-handedly. AFD’s 12th International Conference on Development gathered researchers and practitioners from every continent to discuss this in Paris on 1 and 2 December 2016. 

“A Common World”, finally, is not yet “a communal world”. The subtle difference between the two speaks volumes, marks the road which still lies ahead, and expresses movement, effort, action. It compels us to achieve the five major transitions we are all engaged in and which are set out in AFD’s strategy: energy and ecological transition (essential for the climate); territorial transition (cities AND rural areas); demographic transition (this is where Africa’s wealth lies); digital transition (a common good par excellence); political and citizen-based transition (in crisis situations, for strong, transparent and inclusive institutions). This is our roadmap at AFD, the same as that of our big sister, Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations.

A word about AFD’s new image. What do these three colors, these two circles which are in motion and come together, mean?
Our new project needs to be embodied in a new visual identity.

It keeps two markers, which are strongly asserted and on which our identity is based today and will continue to be based tomorrow. Firstly, the three letters, A-F-D, are clear and sharp. They are our name and our signature. We are an agency actively working in the field. A bank is more than a bank. A bank not like any other. A bank of solutions. And we are proud of this identity. Secondly, the three colors, blue, white and red. We are the operator for France’s development policy and tomorrow, even more so than yesterday, we are going to become far more rooted in France, to promote the expertise and experience of all the development actors in our country, and permeate our territories with the innovations and expectations seen in our countries of operation.

Our new logo expresses what is new in our project. These rings represent the world, and take up the symbolism of the SDGs, the new planetary horizon, in order to strike a sustainable balance between meeting everyone’s needs and the limits of our planet. They are in motion, in transition from one state to another. They reflect the fact that nothing is set in stone and that we can influence development pathways. Two circles with two colors, with exactly the same size and same intensity, blend together, build together and exchange their experiences, in both directions. The exchange is made on an equal footing, between the North and South. This is our new mandate. Finally, these circles converge and join together, to mark our commitment to partnerships with all development actors and our alliance with Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations, whose slightly orange-tinted red now blends with our blue. 
 

Biography

Rémy Rioux became the chief executive officer of the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) in June 2016. Previously a senior advisor for the Cour des Comptes, the supreme audit institution of the government of France, Rioux has dedicated his career to serving France and to supporting Africa’s development.

After completing his studies at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure (ENS) and Sciences Po, Rioux attended the Ecole Nationale d’Administration (ENA), France’s graduate school for civil servants, where he first became involved with Africa as an intern in Bénin and while working with the Organization for the Harmonization of African Business Law (OHADA).

Rioux began his professional career at the Cour des Comptes in 1997, working on economic and financial policy and conducting energy and defense sector audits until 2000. He then moved to the French interior ministry, where he worked with former Interior Minister Daniel Vaillant, managing the ministry and the euro changeover until 2002. Rioux returned to his previous duties at the Cour des Comptes from 2002 to 2004. In 2004, he began working for the French Treasury, monitoring the CFA franc zone. Over the following three years, Rioux deepened his knowledge of Africa as he travelled to the zone’s 14 West and Central African member-countries and elsewhere across the continent. During this time, Rioux established close relationships and acquired his acknowledged expertise in development issues.

Rioux continued his work at the Treasury as chief investment officer for the Agence des Participations de l’État (APE), the government’s investment agency, from 2007 to 2010. Responsible for the transportation and media sectors, Rioux sat on the boards of Renault, SNCF, RATP, Aéroports de Paris, France Télévisions, France Médias Monde, Arte, and Grand Port Maritime du Havre. From 2010 to 2012, Rioux served as Deputy Secretary General for international financial affairs and development for the French Ministry of the Economy, Industry, and Employment. There he deployed and deepened his Africa expertise, helping to resolve a political crisis in Côte d’Ivoire. In addition, when France chaired the Group of 20 and hosted the G20 Summit in 2011, Rioux put Africa’s development on the international agenda, moderating the High-Level Panel on Infrastructure chaired by Tidjane Thiam and creating a standing working group.

Rioux served as Chief of Staff to former minister Pierre Moscovici at the Ministry of the Economy, Finance and Foreign Trade from 2012 to 2014. He helped to restore the French economy’s competitiveness, balance public accounts, and deal with several financial and industrial cases concerning Bpifrance, Dexia, PSA-Dongfeng, STX, and other organizations. Alongside Minister Moscovici, Rioux was behind efforts to entrust Hubert Vedrine, Lionel Zinsou, Jean-Michel Severino, Hakim El Kharoui and Tidjane Thiam with the task of redefining economic relations between Africa and France in 2013; he also prompted Jacques Attali’s report on the French-speaking economy in 2014.

In 2014, former Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius appointed Rioux deputy secretary general of the French foreign affairs ministry, where he served as the pillar of the minister’s economic-diplomacy policy. Rioux, a public-finance specialist, helped reform public operators and financial instruments to boost trade, tourism, and France’s appeal to foreigners. Beginning in 2015, Fabius, the chair of the Paris COP21 Climate Conference, asked Rioux to work with the French negotiating team led by Laurence Tubiana to coordinate the financing portion of the climate negotiations for the final Paris Agreement. Rioux addressed public and private climate-finance issues, such as how to collect the USD 100 billion pledged by countries and how to guide funders and investors towards low-carbon investments. Rioux also championed the scaling-up of renewables in Africa; during the Paris Climate Conference, a sustainable-energy initiative was launched at Le Bourget.

Rémy Rioux, an expert in international financial institutions, particularly development banks, also knows AFD very well: he served on its board from 2010 to 2012, after having sat on the board of PROPARCO, its private-sector financing arm, from 2004 to 2007. In September 2015, French President François Hollande asked Rioux to prepare for closer ties between AFD and the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (CDC) before he appointed Rioux to run the development agency in 2016.

Rémy Rioux, born in 1969, is married and has three children. A historian by training, he is recognized as a man of dialogue. Deeply attached to his family’s region of origin in France’s Massif Central (Lozère and especially Corrèze counties), Rioux likes to go there to read, play sports, and hunt for mushrooms around the village of Theillet; it sits on a plateau overlooking the town of Tulle whose forests extend all the way to Dordogne.

Rioux’s knowledge of French institutions and companies, his passion for development and climate issues, and his close ties with Africa will help him meet AFD’s challenges. By 2020, the agency’s financing will increase 50 percent to support a more just and sustainable world for everyone’s benefit. In recent years, AFD has become a key player in fighting climate change by dedicating more than half of its foreign aid to pro-climate projects and programmes. 
 

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