As country director of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Kenichi Yokoyama heads ADB’s Indian Resident Mission, where he is responsible for the overall country assistance strategy, the identification of new projects, and sovereign lending and technical assistance operations.
Starting his career with the Japanese government in 1983, as a water resources engineer, Yokoyama shifted to ADB in 1999 after working as a development attaché in the Embassy of Japan in Dhaka for three years. At ADB, he worked as a project engineer until 2012 when he became country director for Nepal. His five years there were his most memorable, in view of the number of challenges encountered, such as major earthquakes in 2015 and a difficult implementation environment related to capacity constraints and political interference.
With regard to the current state of infrastructure in the country, Yokoyama says, “The gross fixed capital formation has declined over the past five years, from 34 per cent to 27 per cent of GDP. This needs to be reversed for India to transform more rapidly with faster job creation. For this, cities need to be rejuvenated through long-term planning, and reforms in land use and building restrictions. Public and private investments in infrastructure are also urgently needed. The manufacturing sector needs to be linked to global value chains through the creation of economic corridors and the Make in India initiative. We want to build a strong project line-up to bring $3 billion-$4 billion of investments annually.”
Yokoyama believes that his strength lies in working long hours and taking up challenges that require perseverance. With an analytic bent, he has a systematic approach and works with his team to produce results. A civil engineer from a Japanese university, he has a master’s in agricultural economics from Stanford University. His family, comprising his wife and two daughters, lives in Japan and he visits them once in two months. In his spare time, he enjoys exercising, listening to classical and popular music, and reading articles on diverse subjects. A nature admirer, Yokoyama prefers quiet beaches, deserts and mountains. He is also keen to visit places of cultural heritage such as ancient temples and artistic buildings. On his personal goals, Yokoyama says, “It would be good to write about the dramatic experiences I have had in the developing world, and the places I have visited with my family and friends.”