Abidjan, October 25, 2011 – As she wrapped up a two-day visit of Côte d’Ivoire, World Bank Vice President for the Africa Region, Obiageli Ezekwesili, stressed the importance of rebuilding social cohesion in a country that previously had very strong social capital based on unity, diversity and a vibrant economy in the sub-region of West Africa.
“I said to the President that it is obvious that the common vision is to make Côte d’Ivoire a society that grows economically, becomes vibrant again and tackles poverty, which is the common enemy of all Ivoirians,” Ms. Ezekwesili said as she wrapped up a two-day visit during which she met with President Alassane Ouattara, Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, and members of the Commission on Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation headed by former Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny.
The visit, which comes six months after the end of the post-election crisis that shook Côte d’Ivoire, was an opportunity for Ms. Ezekwesili to follow up on progress towards debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative, as well as reforms in the agriculture sector, in particular the cocoa and coffee sub-sectors. It was also an opportunity for Ms. Ezekwesili to reiterate the World Bank’s commitment of support to the efforts of the Ivoirian government towards national reconciliation.
During a working session with cabinet members, the World Bank Vice President for the Africa Region expressed her appreciation of the efforts that the government is making with regard to macro-economic stability, public financial management and governance, and the need for improvements in agriculture, infrastructure, education and private sector development.
“What Côte d’Ivoire needs now urgently is for jobs, more jobs and even greater jobs to be available to the citizens. This was our main focus as we looked at what Finance Minister Charles Koffi Diby and his colleagues have been doing across the infrastructure, energy, agriculture sectors to enhance productivity and improve competitiveness,” Ms. Ezekwesili said.
Another important aspect of the visit was a series of discussions with the leaders of Côte d’Ivoire’s Commission on Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation, as well as meeting with women and Civil Society representatives, on the prospects for reconciliation and social cohesion.
Ms. Ezekwesili noted that the World Bank Group has drawn important lessons from the 2011 World Development Report on Conflict, Security and Development. The report, she said, offers to both the Commission and civil society representatives insights into best practices and technical expertise to help them achieve their goals.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, at the end of the day, the most important things for Ivoirians, regardless of where they are from, is to understand that their nation and its potential will be strengthened. This will not be realized until there is a unified purpose and a realization that it is corruption, poverty, poor governance and lack of transparency which are the common enemies of all Ivoirians,” Ms. Ezekwesili said.
She added that the World Bank will support the commission in looking at the important dimension of communication strategies and how women, who have suffered most from the long political stalemate, can become vital agents for peace building.
The World Bank has recently provided two grants to Côte d’Ivoire: US$150 million in budget support and US$50 million for youth employment.