In September, the Lebanese political class finally put aside the political wrangling to install a new government, the country still being in the grip of a serious economic and energy crisis. Helping tackle these challenges at the heart of the cabinet, longtime strategy consultant Walid Fayad has been appointed the country’s new Minister of Energy and Water.
After graduating with a master’s degree in environmental engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1997, it is perhaps not surprising that Walid Fayad quickly found his place in the world of professional services. Massachusetts is the spiritual home of American strategy consulting, some of the world’s largest companies, including Boston Consulting Group, Bain & Company and Arthur D. Little, were established in Boston and are still headquartered there.
Walid Fayad joined McKinsey & Company – the only MBB member not based in Boston – and quickly became an Associate, before leaving in 2002 to join Booz Allen Hamilton. Rising to the rank of Executive Vice President, he founded the consulting firm’s MENA activity during his 15-year stay with the firm.
In the final chapter of his consulting career, he took on the role of Managing Director Middle East and North Africa at Partners in Performance, an Australian-born management consulting firm.
Today, however, Walid Fayad made a leap familiar to many other strategy consultants before him: a leap that led him into the world of politics. Chosen by President Michel Aoun, he will use his experience as a consultant as well as his training in civil engineering as the new Lebanese Minister of Energy and Water.
Walid Fayad assumes the role at a time of deep crisis for Lebanon. Amid an unprecedented national currency crash, a liquidity crisis (the Lebanese do not have access to most of their bank accounts) and a political stalemate with the Western world and the region Gulf, the country is in a downward spiral with little hope for improvement (the March 2022 elections are expected to be a turning point).
Meanwhile, the Mediterranean country – once known as the “Paris of the Middle East” – is grappling with a crippling energy crisis, exacerbated by a dependence on imported fuel and crumbling infrastructure. These erratic power supplies have put hospitals and essential services in crisis mode, as power outages could now leave entire areas with no more than two hours of electricity a day, crippling business and life.
This has an impact on Lebanon’s water supply. Shortages of funding, fuel and supplies have affected water pumping, limiting people’s access to clean water. According to UNICEF, at least 70 percent of the Lebanese population faces severe water shortages, especially during the hottest months of the year.
A year of wrangling over the seats of government has exacerbated Lebanon’s devastating economic collapse, as well as its inability to bounce back from the catastrophic 2020 explosion in the Port of Beirut. The standoff meant nothing was done as fuel shortages immobilized much of the country, triggering numerous security incidents, with warnings of the worst to come if something is not done.
In this context, the water and energy crises have been presented by some as the greatest threat to the stability of Lebanon since the civil war of 1975-90, and as it is hoped that it will help to reverse them. , Walid Fayad now finds himself in one of the regions with the most important civilian jobs.
The full list of ministers of the new government is as follows:
Najib Mikati – Prime Minister
Saadeh al Shami – Deputy Prime Minister
Abbas Halabi – Minister of Education and Higher Education
George Qardahi – Minister of Information
Bassam Mawlawi – Minister of the Interior
Firass Abyad – Minister of Public Health
Nasser Yassine – Minister of the Environment
Amin Salam – Minister of the Economy
Youssef Khalil – Minister of Finance
Ali Hamieh – Minister of Public Works
Moustafa Bayram – Minister of Labor
Abbas al Hajj Hassan – Minister of Agriculture
Mohammad Mortada – Minister of Culture
Issam Sharafeddine Chehayeb – Minister for the Displaced
Abdallah Abu Habib – Minister of Foreign Affairs
Johnny Corm – Minister of Telecommunications
Walid Nassar – Minister of Tourism
Henry Khoury – Minister of Justice
Walid Fayyad – Minister of Energy and Water
Brig. General Maurice Slim – Minister of Defense
Hector Hajjar – Minister of Social Affairs
George Kallas – Minister of Youth and Sports
Najla Riachi – Minister of Administrative Development
George Boujikian – Minister of Industry