BANGUI, July 20, 2012 – More than 15 Central African ministers joined the World Bank, development partners and civil society and private sector members for a portfolio feedback review session designed to strengthen performance and scale up the impact of projects in the country.
Abdou Karim Mekassoua, the CAR’s minister of state planning, economy and international cooperation, attended the three-day event and expressed the importance of partnership with the World Bank to improve conditions for the country’s poor.
“The CAR welcomes all the efforts undertaken by the World Bank to improve access to the CAR and help it combat poverty among the country’s poorest citizens,” he said. “All of these efforts should be supported if we hope to measure up to the task at hand. We also understand that it is entirely possible that our government will have to do more to allow us to improve our score in order to secure a better CPIA rating.”
The CAR’s CPIA score improved between 2009 and 2011, totaling 2.6, 2.8, and 2.8, respectively. The annual disbursement rate of 34% posted by the CAR appears to be higher than the target of at least 25% set for the Africa Region.
The World Bank’s total commitment in the Central African Republic increased from US$17 million in 2006 to US$332 million in 2012, and is even expected to increase further to around US$450 million with the approval by the Bank’s Board of Executive Directors for additional financing of US$125 million for the CEMAC Transport and Transit Facilitation Project (TTFP).
With a view to meeting the commitments made under the MDGs, the World Bank’s interventions focused on transportation, agriculture, mining, energy, the business environment, finance, and the education, health, water, and sanitation social sectors.
“The effective implementation of this partnership’s main projects now under way is expected to produce results that will help improve the CAR’s socioeconomic performance during its post-conflict recovery phase,” Mekassoua said.
The review not only served to inform participants of the status of implementation of the projects and their results, but also facilitated discussions on the CPIA with respect to the governance of the country and the analysis of the CAR’s business environment conducted by the IFC office in Bangui. The advantage of adopting this approach was that it informed the stakeholders of the major challenges facing the country.
David Tchuinou, senior World Bank economist, opened the discussions with a focus on the key criteria of this evaluation system and the major challenges that the government had to overcome in order to improve its score. During the spirited discussions, key learnings were shared by several participants.
Gbegba Noel, special assistant in the Ministry of Infrastructure and coordinator of the PFT, to say the review was a “critical” exercise for the CAR.
“It just dawned on me that if we make a little effort to organize our administration in accordance with our regulatory frameworks, we will collect billions, because the CPIA indices are clear,” said Noel.
Midou Ibrahima, World Bank country manager for CAR, cautioned against self-congratulation by pointing out to the stakeholders that although there have been successes, a number of challenges remain.
“One of the major challenges at the global level and in Africa is employment, particularly youth employment,” he said. “An appropriate response to this challenge cannot be formulated without a vibrant and competitive private sector. This is why improving the business climate in the CAR must be central to our concerns. The second challenge is to further increase the number of interventions, which is contingent on the portfolio’s sound and efficient management, the indicator of good governance.”
The review’s findings also mentioned a number of weaknesses that must be corrected in the implementation of projects in the CAR. These include, among others, weak national capacity to take ownership of projects, thus raising the issue of sustainability; the slow pace of disbursements; and the weak capacity of procurement entities.
“These identified points must be everyone’s concern because the results of our actions will also depend on the application of appropriate solutions,” Ibrahima said. “This is why I firmly believe that the recommendations from our discussions will have maximum impact if we successfully monitor and ensure their effective implementation.”