On a visit to Algeria, Vice President Inger Andersen reaffirms World Bank support for national efforts to expand the private sector, improve governance and promote youth opportunities
ALGIERS, May 22, 2013 – The World Bank is ready to expand its program in Algeria with support for plans to diversify the economy and strengthen institutions as a catalyst for more robust and inclusive growth. This was the message delivered by World Bank Group Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa Region Inger Andersen during an official visit to Algeria that ended today.
“Through effective management of its natural resource endowment Algeria has succeeded in maintaining growth despite significant internal and external challenges,” said Andersen, concluding the three-day visit. “But as we all agreed, more jobs are needed still and a more diverse economy would deepen the sources of both jobs and growth. The World Bank Group is ready to offer the full scope of our knowledge and experience to help Algeria achieve this goal.”
Current World Bank engagement with Algeria is reimbursable technical assistance designed to support the government’s five-year development plan, Le Programme Quinquenal. Eight new technical assistance agreements were reached last year focused on finance, agriculture, environment, social assistance and telecommunications.
During her visit, Andersen met Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal where discussions reflected the national priority to improve Algeria’s business climate and how the World Bank can assist. She addressed future collaboration on promoting job creation and growth with Finance Minister Karim Djoudi.
The majority of the Bank’s technical assistance to Algeria is concentrated on efforts to improve rural livelihoods. The Minister of Agriculture, Rachid Benaissa, reflected the importance of this as half the country’s population lives in rural areas, and two thirds of that population is under 30 years old, making agriculture a critical source of potential jobs and growth. A key priority for the government is the sustainable development of all communities across its vast national territory and the World Bank has mobilized US$8 million from Global Environment Facility, a Bank-managed trust fund, to pilot a project on improving livelihoods in desert communities.
Andersen also met the Minister of National Solidarity, Family and Women, Souad Bendjaballah, the Minister of Posts, Information and Communication, Moussa Benhamadi, the Minister of Energy and Mines, Youcef Yousfi, and Governor of the Central Bank of Algiers, Mohammed Laksaci. Andersen said she welcomed these multiple perspectives which gave her a detailed understanding of government priorities to help ensure that World Bank support is closely tailored to specific needs.
The visit also introduced Andersen to voices outside of government addressing Algeria’s development challenges. At a lunch with members of the business community, she heard about obstacles to private sector growth. The World Bank has recently begun work with the Ministry of Industry on promoting public-private dialogue and there are a number of initiatives under development to improve the business environment and help create a regulatory regime that facilitates private sector growth.
Andersen visited a small business established by a young woman entrepreneur who had successfully launched an environmental consulting business with financing from Algeria’s largest job creation agency. Youth unemployment in Algeria is over twice the national average rate and the National Agency for Youth Employment Support is designed to tackle this by promoting entrepreneurship through micro-loans. Unleashing the creative and productive potential of Algeria’s large youth population is also a central focus of World Bank engagement in Algeria.
In the heart of urban Algiers, Andersen rode the newly inaugurated metro, a government infrastructure investment in managing urban congestion and connectivity.
“Algeria has an impressive determination to reach its development goals and these are clearly defined,” said Simon Gray, Word Bank Country Director for the Maghreb, who accompanied Andersen. “Along with a willingness to commit funds, Algerians will need strong institutions to ensure that these funds reach their intended destination and have the intended impact. The World Bank will continue to support Algeria’s reform efforts to this end.”