Ms Maria Helena Semedo assumed the position of Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa as from 1 July 2009.
Ms. Semedo, a national of Cape-Verde, holds an M.Sc. in Economics from the "Instituto Superior de Economia", Lisbon, Portugal.
Ms. Semedo started her career in 1984 as Economist for the Ministry of Planning and Cooperation, Planning Department, Praia. From 1986 to 1991, she worked as Economist/ Coordinator for the Organization and Methods Department, Bank of Cape Verde, and, from 1991 to 1993, as Secretary of State for Fisheries. In 1993 she was appointed as Minister for Fisheries, Agriculture and Rural Affairs and in 1995 Minister for Marine Affairs, a position she held until 1998. During this period, she also served as Coordinator of the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in Sahel (CILSS), as Chairperson of the Ministerial Conference on Fisheries Cooperation among African States bordering the Atlantic Ocean and as Chairperson of the Ministerial Conference on Fisheries Cooperation among African States bordering the Atlantic Ocean. From 1998 to 2001, she was Minister for Tourism, Transportation and Marine Affairs. From 2001 to 2003, she was a Member of Parliament. She joined FAO in 2003 as FAO Representative in Niger. In October 2008, Ms Semedo was appointed Deputy Regional Representative for Africa and Subregional Coordinator for West Africa.