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World Bank to release new growth strategy for Africa

CARTOON
By | January 21st 2011

By JOHN OYUKE

The World Bank is set to release a new strategy, outlining how it plans to deepen partnership with Africa in the next five years.

The Bank’s Africa Region is finalising the strategy listed for presentation to its Board of Directors in early March this year.

Once endorsed, the Bank disclosed, the plan would be published and implemented beginning in the new fiscal year starting July 1.

Vice President for the Africa region, Obiageli Ezekwesili said the main instrument for implementing the strategy would be partnerships.

"We need to leverage the private sector, development actors and most importantly, African society in designing development solutions going forward, and to ensure that our knowledge and financial resources are much more productive and effective," she said.

The strategy dubbed Africa’s future and World Bank support to it has been informed by input and feedback provided by more than two thousand Africans and others who participated in an eight-month-long series of face-to-face and on-line consultations.

Based on the feedback, the World Bank’s engagement in support of Africa’s development would henceforth be organised along the two pillars identified in the draft strategy, that is, competitiveness and employment and vulnerability and resilience.

DEVELOPMENT NEEDS

The Bank said the pillars recognise the current challenges, priorities and opportunities, including the onset of rapid economic growth and the potential for Africa to become a global growth pole.

Chief Economist for the Africa region and lead author of the strategy, Shanta Devarajan lauded everyone who participated in the process.

"The comments we received proved what we have known for some time -— that Africans are best placed to determine their development needs and the interventions necessary to foster economic growth and poverty reduction in their countries," he said.

Some of the many suggestions made by participants during the consultations included encouragement by stakeholders for the World Bank to, for instance, acknowledge China’s long-standing role in trade with Africa and with the continent’s development.

They also asked the Bank to help encourage and build stronger Asia-Africa partnerships, keeping in mind that interest in the continent, as a destination for business would increase in the years ahead.

The Bank was also urged to deepen the involvement of non-State actors like civil society organisations in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of development interventions.

It should also ensure greater emphasis is given to agriculture, given its enormous potential to boost the incomes of the poor, improve food security, tackle poverty and generate opportunities for agribusinesses.

The Bank should also consider the best ways of integrating the informal sector, a key driver of employment especially among youth and women in Africa, into the strategy’s competitiveness and employment pillar.

Statistics indicate that due to demand in telecommunication services, returns from the sector in Sub-Saharan Africa 2010 have been among the best performing in the world while on the other hand, there exists immense opportunities for development of roads and railways in many African countries that are positioning themselves for economic take-off.

According to Antoinette Monsio Sayeh, Director of the IMF’s African Department, the region’s resilience owes much to sound policies before and during the 2007/09 global financial crisis. This allowed countries to use fiscal and monetary policies nimbly to dampen the adverse effects of the sudden shifts in world trade, prices, and financial flows.

"Domestic demand in the region in 2010 and 2011 is expected to remain strong on the basis of rising real incomes and sustained private and public investment. In addition, exports are expected to benefit from the increased orientation of trade toward fast-growing markets in Asia."

ECONOMIC PROGRAMME

Already, IMF has reached an agreement in principle to provide Kenya with a $500 million (Sh40 billion) extended credit facility to help boost growth in East Africa’s biggest economy fund an economic programme that runs through December 2013.

The money will be used to reduce Kenya’s budget deficit, in creating a better investment climate and strengthen governance and maintain inflation at below five per cent.

In Kenya, however, there are fears that the current drought situation could dampen the forecast growth, two years after the country suffered from post-election violence.

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