WASHINGTON, November 2, 2010 – The World Bank Vice President for the Africa Region, Obiageli Ezekwesili, on Tuesday starts a 10-day, four-nation Africa trip to help catalyze investments in Africa’s private sector, encourage extra support to fragile, conflict-affected and land-locked African countries, and speak up in support of increased donor harmonization, needed to make aid more effective.
Ms. Ezekwesili will head first to Rwanda (2-4 November) before travelling to Burundi (4-8 November), Botswana (9-10 November) and Lesotho (11-12 November).
In Rwanda, Ms. Ezekwesili will attend an Investors’ Forum showcasing trade and investment opportunities open to domestic and foreign investors in the horticulture and tea sectors and use the opportunity of a Development Partners’ Meeting to make the case of addressing bottlenecks and key constraints to aid effectiveness.
Her visit to Burundi is aimed at focusing attention and raising the appeal of fragile, conflict-affected and land-locked African countries like Burundi as a destination for investments. The country—the most recent newcomer to the East African Community—recently resumed economic growth emerging from years of economic isolation and is struggling to rebuild after years of armed conflict.
Ms. Ezekwesili will discuss ways in which the Bank can continue to support Botswana’s growth, poverty reduction and economic diversification plans. She will use the opportunity to stress the need for African countries now earning more revenue from higher global prices for natural resources to ensure that they use the extra cash to strengthen economic recovery in an environmentally sustainable manner.
In Lesotho, one of the African countries worst hit by the global financial crisis, Ms. Ezekwesili will hold sessions with government officials, other development partners and the private sector to evaluate the new challenges posed by a decline in the diamond trade; the sharp fall in revenue from the Southern African Customs Union—which accounts for over 60 percent of the government’s revenue base—and the loss of textile markets due to the slowdown in the United States. Helping drive economic recovery and working to pull Basotho households out of poverty is one of the key goals of the World Bank.
Investments in road and power infrastructure to promote regional trade and integration programs are crucial for land-locked African countries and are key for generating economic opportunities in fragile and conflict-affected countries, such as those on Ms. Ezekwesili’s schedule during this trip. Funds are also needed to help these countries address the human tragedy unfolding as a result of health pandemics such as HIV/AIDS and to help them promote agriculture and manufacturing; and take full advantage of transformative opportunities beckoning in the telecommunications and ICT sector.
During her visit, Ms. Ezekwesili will visit World Bank-funded projects in the four countries. She will hold working sessions with Heads of State, government officials, the representatives of other donor agencies, the private sector and civil society organizations to explore ways of consolidating peace, and promoting transparency, accountability, and good governance.
In 2010, the World Bank Group, whose support for Africa is mainly provided through the International Development Association (IDA), the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Multilateral Insurance Guarantee Agency (MIGA), committed a record $11.5 billion in loans, zero-interest credits, grants, equity investments, and guarantees.