ANTANANARIVO, May 19, 2014 – The World Bank Vice President for the Africa Region, Mr. Makhtar Diop, paid a four-day historic visit (May 16-19) to the island nation of Madagascar; a first by a Regional Vice-President for almost ten years.
This highly anticipated visit was hailed by the authorities as a gesture of solidarity with the people of Madagascar at a crucial juncture of the country’s history. With over 75 percent of its 22.6 million souls living under the poverty line, and most of whom under the age of 20 years old, the challenges facing the country are daunting and all the more pressing. As the President Hery Rajaonarimampianina put it during the courtesy call with Mr. Diop, it will be necessary to prioritize among the priorities.
Mr. Diop’s visit, which included a session with students at the Tana University, had a central message of hope. His keynote address was followed by a lively conversation with students and it served for him to stress the importance for the youth to believe in themselves, their country, and the continent. He also shared his vision and passion for education; an imperative, he said, for the continent to find its path out of poverty.
“I came here because I consider it crucial that institutions such as ours have to do their part to help countries move out of conflict and fragility. Madagascar needs help from the international community and I’m here to show my full support to this normalization effort,” said Makhtar Diop, World Bank Regional Vice President for Africa. “I’ve asked my teams to look into ways of scaling up our support as I realize the many challenges you face, and I promise to be your advocate in this effort.”
While in Tana, Vice President Diop held a roundtable with the Prime Minister and his Cabinet. The gathering was instrumental in determining with greater detail what should constitute the World Bank’s support in the current reengagement process with the country. Among the themes discussed were the need to improve economic governance, business environment, agriculture development, basic services and infrastructure development, and inclusive growth.
During his stay, Vice President Diop visited, accompanied by the President of Madagascar, some World Bank funded projects in rural areas at the island of Nosy-Be, away from the capital. Once there, he could see first-hand the impact of community based activities in environment, tourism, and infrastructure development for the local communities.
The World Bank is one of Madagascar’s leading development partners. The country portfolio is now composed of 10 investment projects with a total commitment of over USD 700 million in environment, provision of basic services, and infrastructure.