Over the last 20 years, assistance from the World Bank Group has helped the country transition to a market economy while simultaneously building effective institutions, improving education, increasing social protection, and building and rehabilitating transport and energy infrastructure. In addition to lending, FYR Macedonia has also benefited from the World Bank Group’s Analytical Advisory Activities (AAA) - which have included a Green Growth assessment to help the government mainstream sustainable development and climate change issues into its planning and design, and a review of public expenditure in agriculture and labor markets.
Some areas of World Bank engagement in FYR Macedonia include:
Human Development: The global financial crisis and continuing economic downturn in the Eurozone have reduced prospects for growth, exports, foreign direct investment (FDI), and private transfers in the country over the last several years. Recognizing the role social safety nets play in the broader strategy of poverty reduction, the World Bank Group has supported the government in strengthening the effectiveness and efficiency of the country’s social safety nets through the Conditional Cash Transfers Project. Through this project, more than 9,000 beneficiaries are receiving CCT benefits, resulting in 8,000 children from poor families attending secondary school on a regular basis.
Another project from the Human Development Sector is the Skills Development and Innovation Support Project ($24 million), whose objective is to improve higher education resource allocation transparency, as well as promote accountability, enhance the relevance of secondary technical vocational education, and support innovation capacity in FYR Macedonia.
Energy: Fossil fuels account for more than 80% of energy consumption in FYR Macedonia, and an increasing amount of this is imported. In the absence of investment in new energy sources, this trend will continue as demand grows while domestic production declines. As such, the government is committed to improving the power supply and strengthening the country’s energy security through the development of energy-related projects. As part of this commitment, the government is working with the World Bank to support the Energy Community of South East Europe Project. This project provides support and technical assistance to the country’s public electric power transmission company with the aim of strengthening transmission and dispatch while improving energy efficiency. As a result of this project, the country has been able to rehabilitate 38 substations and increase power transit by almost 200%.
Transport: As a landlocked country, FYR Macedonia is particularly dependent on a well-developed road and rail network for its economic and social development. Key elements of this network are also part of the Trans-European transport network. Since its independence, the main challenges facing the government have been to reduce the economic distance to markets and costs of transportation arising from the poor condition of the transport network and lessen delays at key border crossing points. The World Bank Group is helping FYR Macedonia address these challenges by focusing on improvements of road and rail facilities and simplify the movement of traffic through key border crossings. Part of these efforts have been through the Regional and Local Roads Program Support Project, which has helped rehabilitate more than 500 kilometers of road, improve design of future roads to be more resilient to the expected impacts of climate change, and boost road safety throughout the country.