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Africa Region Vice President Pledges Additional World Bank Support to Liberia

March 31, 2010

MONROVIA, March 31, 2010—World Bank Vice President for the Africa Region Obiageli Ezekwesili on Monday announced the release of additional funds to help Liberia move closer toward achieving economic growth and poverty reduction.

The announcement was made during a one-day visit to Liberia during which Ezekwesili met with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and other high-level government officials.

Ezekwesili used the opportunity of her visit to inspect a number of on-going projects funded by the World Bank, including a streets rehabilitation project and a cash-for-work project in Monrovia. The vice president also spent time with vendors at the Rally Time Market and interacted with taxi drivers at the ELWA Junction in Paynesville.

In a joint World Bank-Government of Liberia press conference, President Sirleaf expressed gratitude to the Bank for supporting Liberia, and pledged her country’s commitment to work closely with the Bank to achieve good and timely results for Liberia’s people.

“I just want to say again to the Vice President, on behalf of Liberia and the Liberian people, our thanks and appreciation for the strong partnership which we have with the Bank and the support we continue to receive…,” President Sirleaf said.

Ezekwesili reiterated the commitment of the Bank to scale up financial and technical support for Liberia. She announced a number of new facilities including US$16 million for the Youth Employment Services project, US$2 million to the Monrovia City Corporation for Solid Waste Management, and budget support to the government in the amount of US$11 million.

The Cash-for-Work program which has already provided jobs for some 17,000 people will also be extended to provide 45,000 additional jobs, according to Ezekwesili.

During her field visits to the various projects in which the vice president urged a focus on infrastructure and private sector investment, Ezekwesili heard from Liberians who are benefiting from Bank-funded projects. One taxi driver told Ezekwesili how much the rehabilitation of the Monrovia City roads has reduced almost by half, the time it takes to drive from one stop to another, leading to an increase in the rounds he makes each day and therefore an increase in his income and an improvement in his standard of living and that of his family.

Also during her visit, students from a day care center established with support from the Bank welcomed Ezekwesili and, at a meeting with the Liberia Marketing Association, the Mayor of Monrovia thanked the vice president and the Bank for the additional funding for his city.

The current World Bank Portfolio in Liberia consists of some 20 projects totaling more than US$250 million in commitments.  The bulk of Bank financing—over US$160 million—is invested in road infrastructure. Other areas benefiting from World Bank support include budget support, ports rehabilitation, energy, social protection, land and forestry reform, economic and public sector governance, capacity building, agriculture, sanitation, education, health, and the economic empowerment of adolescent girls.

Ezekwesili was joined on her visit by Michel Wormser, Director of Operations for the World Bank’s Africa Region; World Bank Country Director for Liberia Ishac Diwan; and Ohene Owusu Nyanin, World Bank Country Manager for Liberia.