World Bank, Gabon Government Aim for Efficiency as Project Portfolio is Reviewed

February 22, 2010

LIBREVILLE, February 22, 2010—Government representatives joined forces with World Bank officials to conduct a review of the Bank’s portfolio in Gabon during a three-day event that aimed to identify, in collaboration with implementing agencies, concrete actions needed to improve the performance of World Bank-financed projects in the country.

The portfolio review was a joint exercise organized by the World Bank in partnership with the government, civil society, and the private sector, in order to evaluate the progress made and delays experienced during project implementation.

Search for Consensus

To this end, 9 performance indicators are being analyzed, namely: effectiveness time frames; quality of mobilization of matching funds; quality of environmental management; compliance with legal provisions; quality of the monitoring and evaluation system; quality of overall project management; quality of the procurement process; quality of the project's financial management; and disbursement delays.

Participants at the event reviewed all of the projects against the above-mentioned indicators in order to evaluate the goals already achieved, identify red tape and other obstacles hindering efficient execution of certain projects, and agree on relevant actions and solutions needed to improve the pace of implementation as well as program results.

At the launch of the work sessions, Jean Philipe Ndong Biyogo, a representative of the Gabonese Government, stressed the importance of the meeting and proposed that the review also include a discussion of projects currently being prepared, with particular emphasis on aspects related to the institutional, legal, review, and budget contexts.

"The results of the review process, which we will submit to the government, should be consensus-based,” Ndong Biyogo said. “It should also reflect the commitment of all parties to assume a share of responsibility."

Scaled up Poverty Reduction Efforts

World Bank Country Director Olivier Fremond urged all parties involved to begin active work to ensure that the significant resources made available to the government could be disbursed and utilized at a pace satisfactory to all in order to achieve the poverty reduction goals for which the funds had been requested.

During the work sessions, participants looked closely at all of the implementation-related aspects of each project. A summary report of specific recommendations was adopted, in addition to an action plan to be submitted to the government for approval.

A New Cooperation Framework Underway

As of January 2010, the World Bank portfolio in Gabon represents a financial commitment of US$51 million, composed essentially of two loans and four grants.  Approved on November 15, 2005, the first loan was allocated to a Natural Resources Management project for US$15 million. The second,  worth US$25 million, was extended for a Local Infrastructure Development project. It was approved on March 14, 2006.

The four grants cover: a Project on Strengthening Capacity for Managing National Parks and Biodiversity (GEF) for US$10 million (approved on March 29, 2006); a Statistical Capacity Building project for US$400,000 (approved on May 30, 2007); a Project on Capacity Building in Environmental Management of Large Infrastructure Projects (IDF) for US$400,000, approved on December 3, 2008; and a REDD project (FCPF) for US$200,000, approved on December 30, 2009.
A road project is also being prepared.

Overall, project distribution by sector is as follows: 50 percent for the environment, 49 percent for urban infrastructure, and 1 percent for poverty reduction.