SANA’A, May 21, 2012 — In the run-up to the Friends of Yemen meeting in Riyadh on Wednesday, World Bank Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa region Inger Andersen paid a two-day visit to Yemen to discuss with the country’s leadership and civil society their hopes for the important transition now underway.
Andersen met with President Abd Rabbo Mansoor Al-Hadi, Prime Minister Mohamed Salem Basendwa, Minister of Planning of International Cooperation, Dr. Mohamed Al-Saedi and Minister of Finance Sakhr Al-Wajih. She also held discussions with a wide array of ministers across the development spectrum including fisheries, education, electricity, vocational and technical education and public works.
In her meeting with civil society organizations, academics, think tank leaders, community activists and women leaders, Andersen heard a wide range of views in an open exchange about the challenges and opportunities on Yemen's development path. There was agreement on the central role that civil society must play in the country’s future.
With the Yemeni Government, Andersen discussed the broader economic vision for the country which will be part of the National Dialogue. "Political stability will need to be underpinned by improved security and economic recovery," she said.
Among key issues identified were measures to stabilize the economy while ensuring that government programs protect the poor. Critical too was the need to promote more inclusive growth through an enhanced business environment that creates jobs and opportunities, especially for young Yemenis. As important were strong and transparent governance and institutions capable of combating corruption so that Yemen's true riches – its entrepreneurial people, its natural wealth and its geographical location – can translate into prosperity and inclusive and sustainable growth, said Andersen.
The World Bank’s present portfolio in Yemen comprises 21 projects under implementation with net commitment of US$836 million. Of this amount US$489 million remains to be disbursed. The Bank has around US$400 million of new grant resources available for the next two and a half years. Discussions with government and civil society focused on the emerging priorities for the use of these resources.
“Yemen's youth – men and women – have brought society to a critical turning point for the country's political way forward. It is important now that what has been accomplished will improve people's lives, and create jobs, opportunity and a brighter future for all,” said Andersen. “This will take political leadership, compromise and courage. The way forward needs to have a strong focus on the economy, governance, and transparency so that the economic foundations are there to support the aspirations of the Yemeni people.”
Discussions with development partners focused on the objectives, timing and venue of the forthcoming donor meeting called the Consultative Group. The timing and venue will be announced in the Friends of Yemen meeting in Riyadh.