Bangui, October 27, 2011 — Central African Republic Country Director Gregor Binkert recently made his first trip to the country to see first-hand how World Bank operations are evolving in an encouraging environment, both politically and collaboratively.
During his three-day visit Sept. 14 – 16, 2011, Binkert was able to meet with high-level officials to discuss country issues relating to the Central African Republic’s (CAR) development and reforms programs and the execution of the 2009-2012 Joint Country Partnership strategy (JCPS), as well as new opportunities for partnership with the World Bank for years to come.
“The discussion with the President of the Republic was productive and very rewarding, as President Bozizé identified several priorities that are truly important for economic recovery and to resolve the difficult issue of security in the Central African Republic,” Binkert told the CAR media after his visit with President François Bozizé.
“With my visit to Bangui, we are truly seeking to forge a new partnership with the Central African Republic.”
The new partnership is already underway, highlighted by meetings with the Central African Head of State and various ministers who are focused on the World Bank’s New Strategy for Africa and its implementation of the International Development Association’s (IDA) portfolio in the country.
Based on active and extensive government participation, there appears to be high interest in the new intervention framework; 16 ministers attended Binkert’s presentation at the Bangui country office.
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During Binkert’s visit, the Agro-Pastoral Recovery Project Financing Agreement was signed, contributing CFAF $10 billion (US$23.8 million) to the recovery of the CAR’s agro-pastoral sector. Rural development is at the heart of the Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRSP-II), which focuses on reducing extreme poverty, and, in particular, food security, by identifying solutions with rapid results that will foster more sustainable growth within agricultural communities.
During a videoconference organized in Washington, D.C. at the end of the World Bank and IMF Annual Meetings, the Sylvian Maliko, minister of economy, planning, and international cooperation underscored the importance of focusing on the agricultural sector.
“Special emphasis was placed on the agricultural dimension; in this regard, the first tranche that we received from the project, for which the agreement was recently signed in Bangui, could be accompanied by considerable support from the World Bank, which believes that the Central African Republic could make agriculture the mainstay of its economy,” Maliko said.
“The World Bank is prepared to support the Central African Republic with the implementation of its poverty reduction strategy, which was shared with partners in June 2011 in Brussels.”
World Bank support is evidenced by the speedy growth of its portfolio, which increased from US$17 million during reengagement in 2006 to approximately US$320 million in July 2011, with 11 IDA-financed operations in progress, and five projects financed through trust funds.
Midou Ibrahima, the World Bank Country Manager for CAR, is inspired by the growth.
“This figure is very encouraging considering IDA’s small allocation,” Ibrahima said.
“Furthermore, it attests to the dynamism of our portfolio on the ground, which aims to help the Central African Republic transition from a situation of extreme instability to one of sustained economic recovery, consistent with the government’s second-generation poverty reduction strategy.”
In addition to working sessions with political authorities and visits to a number of project sites, Binkert also met with development partners, the private sector, civil society and the media for direct discussions about poverty reduction efforts and the promotion of the wellbeing of the Central African population.
Binkert underscored the significance of civil society as an important Bank partner, and representative of project’s beneficiary population. Discussions with bilateral partners and agencies in the United Nations system, as well as economic agents, provided Binkert with an analysis of the country’s development prospects in the climate of insecurity created by the infiltration of members of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the effects of the war in Libya.
In addition to the problem of insecurity, the government also faces another major challenge; the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Consequently, Binkert reassured partners of the World Bank’s commitment to assisting the Central African authorities with implementation of the PRSP-II with a view to reducing poverty in the country.
During a press conference organized for the national media, Binkert thanked the government and all the Central African Republic’s development partners for the welcome extended to him. He underlined the importance accorded by the World Bank to the impact of projects on beneficiary populations and announced that over the next three years, the Bank intends to focus its financing for the Central African Republic in the health, rural development, electricity, and fiber-optic telecommunications sectors.
A new Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) is being prepared with a view to strengthening security, creating jobs and revenue through agro-pastoral development, and ensuring the best delivery of services and basic infrastructure. Efforts are also under way to mobilize regional projects and trust funds to supplement the IDA 16 allocations, estimated at US$50 million for the next three years, all of which will be carried out under the strict observance of good governance principles and transparency in the management of public funds, Binkert said.