BAMAKO, December 20, 2010 – World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick pledged support to Mali as it develops the energy, transport and irrigation infrastructure needed to boost agricultural productivity, expand trade, promote regional integration, and bolster economic development.
During meetings with the president of Mali, cabinet members and representatives of civil society, Zoellick praised Mali’s drive to transform the economy from a reliance on subsistence farming and mining to a future based more on increased agricultural production, manufacturing, and services.
“Increasing agricultural productivity, lowering energy and transportation costs, and diversifying beyond gold mining will lay a stronger foundation for job creation and shared growth,” Zoellick said at the end of his two-day visit to Mali.
Zoellick, who arrived in Bamako on December 18 on a two-nation trip which started December 16 in Zambia, noted Mali’s vulnerability to poor weather conditions and other natural disasters, including the fact that the country is also expected to produce less gold in the years ahead. He encouraged Mali to maintain prudent economic policies, improve public financial management, and strengthen fiduciary oversight and debt management.
Zoellick visited the Groupe Industriel Madiou Simpara SA beverage and packaging company to see a successful, locally-owned business that received World Bank Group support. He also visited the Sotuba Agricultural Research Station to discuss increasing agricultural productivity with farmers and researchers.
Zoellick encouraged transparency in revenue management for Mali’s gold resources, at a time when gold prices have reached high levels. Revenue from gold represents over 95 percent of total mine output. Cotton accounted for eight percent of Mali’s GDP between 1980 and 2005, 30 percent of exports, and benefited a third of Malians. Mali’s most traded goods include mangoes and live animals.
During discussions with civil society, Zoellick supported citizens’ groups in their efforts to achieve more accountability, good governance and anti-corruption efforts.
“We have just concluded a successful replenishment of IDA 16, the World Bank’s main funding to low-income countries,” said the World Bank president, who was accompanied by the Vice President for the Africa Region, Obiageli Ezekwesili.
This past year, IDA committed US$140 million to Mali to support various programs in the areas of: (i) expanding access to electricity, (ii) fostering agriculture productivity while promoting the value chain approaches, and (iii) providing budget support to help the country cope with the effects of the global economic crisis. Inasmuch as IDA 16 represents a 20 percent increase over IDA 15, Mali's allocation is expected to increase roughly to about US$160 million annually. The priority areas for spending are likely to include: infrastructure development through Public Private Partnership initiatives, commercial agriculture, environment and natural resources management, skills development and job creation.