WASHINGTON, May 20, 2013 - World Bank Group President Dr. Jim Yong Kim and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will make an historic joint visit to Africa’s Great Lakes region from May 22nd – 24th in support of a recent landmark peace agreement and to push for economic development in one of the world’s most troubled regions.
The visit will draw attention to the plight of fragile and conflict-affected countries struggling to meet the Millennium Development Goals and will highlight the commitment of the two international organizations to jointly tackle global conflict and poverty.
The trip also follows a groundbreaking agreement -- the “Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region” – that was signed in February by 11 African nations to end conflict in DRC and bring peace to the Great Lakes region. The signatories are Angola, Burundi, the Central African Republic (CAR), Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia.
“This comprehensive new approach gives the DRC and the Great Lakes region its best hope for peace in many years. But commitments on paper must translate into action on the ground. A peace deal must deliver a peace dividend – development, opportunity and hope for people who have suffered for too long,” said the UN Secretary-General.
While in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the region’s largest economy, Kim and Mr. Ban will meet with President Joseph Kabila, Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo, ministers and other officials. The leaders will discuss how the UN and the World Bank can best support the Framework agreement.
In Rwanda, a country that in the last 10 years has significantly improved governance and increased growth from 1% in 2003 to 8.2% in 2013, Kim and Mr. Ban will meet with President Paul Kagame and members of his Cabinet. The two men will also visit with ex-combatants to hear about efforts to demobilize and reintegrate men and women returning to their communities following years of conflict.
The visit to Africa will end in Uganda where the two leaders will meet with President Yoweri Museveni and other officials.
“The leaders of the Great Lakes region will be the key drivers of peace, stability and economic growth. We pledge that the United Nations and the World Bank Group will work closely together in new and deeper ways, following the governments’ lead,” Kim said. “We need to ensure that implementation of the political and security aspects of the framework agreement goes hand-in-hand with the economic development that is essential to lasting peace and stability.”
Africa’s Great Lakes region has been destabilized by years of conflict in the DRC that also has spread to neighboring nations. The instability has destroyed infrastructure, limiting access to electricity and damaging trade corridors, limited governments’ ability to deliver basic services to their citizens, weakened health and education systems and led to high unemployment and low economic growth rates.
Despite the challenges, countries in the region are working hard to rebuild, improve governance and invest in natural and human resources with the support of the United Nations and the World Bank Group.
The World Bank Group is working closely with governments, the private sector and international partners to support reconstruction and help the countries of the Great Lakes realize their development goals. It has to date invested approximately US$6.7 billion in DRC’s development program; US$2.5 billion in Rwanda’s; and US$7.3 billion in Uganda’s.