WASHINGTON, January 19, 2011—The World Bank will in March release a new strategy, outlining how it plans to revise its approach and deepen its partnership with Africa in the five years to 2016.
The strategy known as “Africa's future and World Bank support to it” has been informed by consultations, input and feedback provided by more than two thousand Africans and others who participated in an eight-month-long series of face-to-face and on-line consultations.
From June-December 2010, the Bank invited stakeholders—government officials, development experts, legislators, policy makers, diasporans, representatives of civil society, the private sector, the media, and academia, etc.—to participate in the revision of the strategy which the Bank has been using since 2005, known as the Africa Action Plan, to foster development on the continent.
Input was provided by close to a thousand stakeholders gathered in face-to-face meetings and workshops in 36 countries, 31 of them in Africa. In addition, comments and suggestions provided by more than 540 on-line participants during the first phase of consultations (June-September 2010) informed the initial draft of the strategy.
During the first phase, stakeholders raised a series of issues related to their countries, their sub-regions and the continent. Concerns ranged from promoting the private sector as a driver of growth, to the capacity of governments to manage resources, to the role of sub-regional economic organizations in delivering regional solutions.
Following the release of the draft strategy in November 2010, the second phase of consultations enabled the Bank to calibrate whether the inputs from the first round had been incorporated, as well as to receive and incorporate further comments to the document. A solid majority (76 percent) of the 880 respondents reported that the draft accurately captured the development challenges facing Africa.
“We would like to thank everyone who participated in this process,” said Shanta Devarajan, World Bank Chief Economist for the Africa Region and the lead author of the strategy. “The comments we received proved what we have known for some time--that Africans are best placed to determine their development needs and the interventions necessary to foster economic growth and poverty reduction in their countries.”
Based on the feedback from the consultations, the World Bank's engagement in support of Africa's development will henceforth be organized along the two pillars identified in the draft strategy: (i) competitiveness and employment; and (ii) vulnerability and resilience.
The foundation of work done along these two cross-cutting themes is governance and public sector capacity. The pillars and foundation recognize the current challenges, priorities and opportunities, including the onset of rapid economic growth and the potential for Africa to become a global growth pole.
They also take into account the internal reforms within the World Bank. The most important reforms deepen country ownership of the design and implementation of development programs; boost access to data, information and development knowledge, including South-South learning; and strengthen the empowerment of an increasingly decentralized World Bank staff, including experts and managers based in the continent.
“The main instrument for implementing the strategy will be partnerships,” said Obiageli Ezekwesili, World Bank Vice President for the Africa Region. “We need to leverage the private sector, development actors and most importantly, African society in designing development solutions going forward, and to ensure that our knowledge and financial resources are much more productive and effective.”
Some of the many suggestions made by participants during the consultations included encouragement by stakeholders for the World Bank to:
- Acknowledge China’s long-standing role in trade with the continent and with Africa’s development and encourage and build stronger Asia-Africa partnerships, keeping in mind that interest in the continent as a destination for business will increase in the years ahead;
- Deepen the involvement of non-State actors like civil society organizations in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of development interventions;
- Ensure that a greater emphasis be put on agriculture, given its enormous potential to boost the incomes of the poor, improve food security, curb poverty and generate opportunities for agribusinesses; and
- Consider the best ways of integrating the informal sector, a key driver of employment especially among youth and women in Africa, into the strategy’s competitiveness and employment pillar.
Based on the wealth of input and feedback and on internal discussions within the institution, the World Bank’s Africa Region is now finalizing the strategy, which is scheduled for presentation to its Board of Directors in early March 2011.
Once endorsed, “Africa's future and World Bank support to it” will be published and implemented beginning in the new fiscal year starting July 1, 2011. Ahead of the Board review, Ezekwesili and Devarajan will present an overview of the consultations process and its findings at a date to be announced soon.
The World Bank Group has operations in 47 Sub-Saharan African countries where its funding is mainly provided through the International Development Association (IDA)—the Bank's fund for the world's 79 poorest countries, 39 of them in Africa—and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Bank's private sector arm. In 2010, the World Bank Group committed a record US$11.5 billion in loans, near-zero-interest credits, grants, equity investments, and guarantees to Africa.