Florence Gatome brings 20 years of experience working with governments and development partners across sub Saharan Africa
NIRAS International Consulting is pleased to introduce Florence Gatome as our new Director of the Africa Regional office, headquartered in Nairobi. A Kenyan with a successful career in international development from more than 20 countries, Florence comes to NIRAS from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Rwanda where she was the Country Senior Partner.
Responsible for the public sector line of business, Florence mostly worked with government and bilateral and multilateral institutions including DFID, USAID, EU, Sida, Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands, the African Development Bank Group, the World Bank, GIZ, Gavi and The Global Fund among others. She brings a wealth of experience in public financial management, audits and institutional assessments, fund management, local fund agency, public policy, technical assistance, MEL, and training and capacity building.
“This is one of the main reasons I was drawn to NIRAS – it’s a value driven multi-disciplinary consultancy that is truly committed to sustainable development. The portfolio of clients and in-house technical expertise are very familiar to me. The wide range of competencies within the organisation are impressive and very relevant for what the African continent needs to transform and achieve economic growth. I feel we have the ability to make real impact beyond development consulting by tapping into the wider group’s services and skills.”
Florence graduated in 1999 from the University of Nairobi and worked for KPMG East Africa before being awarded the British Chevening Scholarship in 2002 to study a Master’s in Development Finance at the University of Manchester. She returned to Kenya in 2004 and joined PwC Kenya for six years before moving to Rwanda in 2010 to support in opening an office to serve clients in both Rwanda and Burundi.
Florence was the Chair of the Eisenhower Fellowships Rwanda chapter from 2010 to 2020 and organised the first regional conference in Africa in June 2019 where HE President Paul Kagame was guest of honour.
One of my biggest clients was the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria with whom I worked for more than 15 years in providing local fund agency services in Rwanda, Eritrea, Tanzania, Zambia, Rwanda and Somalia. As the Team Leader in Rwanda, I could see first-hand the impact of our work in fighting the three diseases and strengthening health systems. The health sector is one area where I see a lot of potential for NIRAS, and is more critical now with COVID 19. We have an opportunity to partner with governments and development partners in Africa in rebuilding and strengthening public health systems in order to respond effectively to both COVID 19 and future pandemics.
As we move to the post COVID period, Florence believes there is also an opportunity for NIRAS to support African governments in rebuilding their economies by supporting private sector development. In Africa, NIRAS is currently working on many projects in this area, and, with the emerging shift by some development partners from development aid to trade, our model of development consulting will change in the coming years.
“As a first step, I would be keen to support the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, which has the potential to create a continental free-trade zone with a combined gross domestic product of USD$3.4 trillion and a market of 1.3 billion people, according to the African Union. AfCFTA emphasises the reduction of tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and the facilitation of free movement of people and labour, right of residence, right of establishment, and investment. In addition to this FTA, there is need to support implementation of bilateral trade agreements that African governments are entering into with developed countries,” Florence explains.
SMEs represent 90% of businesses and provide over 80% of employment across Africa so you have to focus on private sector development if you want to trigger economic growth in Africa and create employment. As donors move from aid to trade, regional integration and trade become critical. It’s the time to capture these opportunities, especially if we want to remain relevant!
In addition to health, regional integration and trade, Florence is passionate about entrepreneurship and innovation. As Chair of the Advisory Board for the African Entrepreneur Collective (AEC) Kenya, she has donated her time in the past year to support the organisation’s growth in Kenya. AEC supports African entrepreneurs to build their skills, expand their networks, and grow their businesses so that they improve lives and create jobs. To date, over 22,000 entrepreneurs have been served with an impressive repayment rate of 97% and over 23,000 jobs created. AEC also has a unique initiative of providing business development services and micro loans to refugees in camps across East Africa and is now the largest lender to refugees in Africa. They are currently developing their strategy for the next decade and looking at growing through partnerships with financial institutions and expanding the use of technology.
Florence's predecessor, Irene Karani, was with NIRAS for 12 years, arriving as senior executive from the NIRAS merger with LTS in 2018. Irene launched the Africa regional office in 2019 and recently made a career shift to work in the philanthropic sector in the climate change space. We are confident that Florence can cement Irene’s legacy as the first Africa Director using her capabilities and ambitions to realise a shared vision.
She explains, “I have two main objectives: growing the business and people. The first goal is to grow revenue significantly by developing bigger, more profitable opportunities, which can only be achieved through the second – growing the team in terms of technical abilities and business development skills. So far, I have found NIRAS to be an organisation with warm, courteous people, and I can confirm we have a strong and committed team on the ground here in Nairobi.
“Africa is a young continent and yes there is political and economic instability, particularly in sub Saharan Africa. But if we are successful in building local teams who are well equipped technically and business wise, we will deliver a sustainable business that moves us forward and brings us closer to our goal of fulfilling the continent’s true potential.”