JUBA, September 6, 2010 – At the end of a three-day visit in Juba, the World Bank’s Vice President for Africa, Ms. Obiageli Ezekwesili and Southern Sudan Minister of Finance, Mr. David Deng Athorbei held a joint press conference, at which they recommitted the World Bank and the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) to the continued collaboration that has brought significant development results to Southern Sudan in recent years, including through the Multi-Donor Trust Fund.
“So far, the Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) has done a great job, helping us to implement our development plans. We are looking forward to the post-Referendum period when we shall call upon the Bank to help us in the development of Southern Sudan and in the management of our resources,” Minister Athorbei said in his opening remarks.
During her visit Ms. Ezekwesili met with H.E. Lt.Gen Salva Kiir, President of the Government of Southern Sudan, and H.E Dr. Rick Machar, Vice President, as well as with Hon. Lt. Gen. James Wani Igga, Speaker of Parliament. She was also a guest at the Council of Ministers’ meeting last Friday. “It was heartwarming to hear these senior government officials say that the World Bank, through its administration of the MDTF, has been significantly helpful to the people of Southern Sudan in delivering essential services in important sectors like health and education, central sectors to building up the human development elements in this economy, and in building up the overall capacity of the state,” Ms. Ezekwesili said.
Ms. Ezekwesili talked about examples she had seen during her visit like MDTF and World Bank funded support to young women to train for jobs, and to women entrepreneurs who were creating jobs in poultry farming, manufacturing and marketing of other products. She recalled her visit to Juba’s premier medical facility where MDTF funding for rehabilitating the Maternity Ward was helping to save the lives of mothers and their new borns in a city where maternal and infant mortality remains a huge concern. Ms. Ezekwisili also recalled the 80-fold increase in businesses registered after MDTF financing upgraded the companies Registry in the Ministry of Legal Affairs, part of ongoing support by the Bank’s private sector affiliate, the International Finance Corporation(IFC) in scaling up private sector activity.
Earlier in the visit Ms Ezekwesili also held separate talks with representatives of the civil society, the private sector and the international development community. There was broad agreement on a key leadership role for the Bank in helping to reduce poverty in Southern Sudan, irrespective of the outcome of referendum.
In her concluding remarks at the press conference, Vice President Ezekwesili passionately reminded her audience that: “… poverty is at an unacceptable level in Southern Sudan. Reducing it will require a medium to long term economic development strategy that uses oil revenues to diversify the economy into areas like agriculture where the potential exceeds those of countries like Canada, and to invest heavily in health and education where indicators are among the worst in the world." She continued with a commitment that “As you take on these challenges, the World Bank will always be a strategic partner with the people and Government of Southern Sudan.”
The World Bank Vice President concluded her visit early last Saturday afternoon and was seen off from the Juba International Airport by H.E the Minister of Finance, Mr. David Deng Athorbei, whom she thanked for the Government’s role in facilitating her well organized and productive visit to Southern Sudan.