Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara this week affirmed Hamed Bakayoko as Prime Minister, replacing Amadou Coulibaly who suffered a fatal heart attack last month, and is allowing the new incumbent to retain control of the defence portfolio.

Ouattara also signalled his preference for handing over to a “new generation,” promoting his own spokesman, Covid-19 survivor Patrick Achi, to the position of Minister of State, elevating the seasoned energy technocrat to third-highest ranking official in the regime.

Having stated an intent not to run for a third term, Ouattara was initially presumed to favour installing Bakayoko, in place of Coulibaly, as the ruling party candidate to contest presidential elections on 31 October — but Achi’s accession may change that perception.

As a former minister for economic infrastructure, Achi saw a need to revive the upstream sector and expand gas-to-power, and once told Upstream during his tenure as technical advisor to the Energy Department of his ambition to develop a strong, exportable skills base.

After attending the Paris Graduate School of Electricity, Achi took engineering at Stamford University in the US before developing career with Arthur Andersen, later starting his own public finance consultancy.

Achi openly welcomed greater participation by non-French oil and energy companies in Ivory Coast’s reconstruction and is now tipped as a possible successor to Ouattara in upcoming polls, under the so-called RHDP political alliance.