New World Bank Vice President for Africa visits South Africa
PRETORIA, June 4, 2012 – Makhtar Diop, newly-appointed World Bank Vice President for Africa Region visited Pretoria today for meetings with Ministers Pravin Gordhan (Finance), Malusi Gigaba (Public Enterprises) and Trevor Manuel (Planning) on strengthening the South Africa-World Bank partnership.
“South Africa is the leading economic power on the African continent and I’m delighted to have met a number of senior Cabinet Ministers and discuss South Africa’s development challenges and how the World Bank might help the country to increase its economic growth, achieve sustainable energy security, and share more development know-how within Africa and beyond,” said Mr. Diop at a press conference held at O.R. Tambo airport today.
Mr. Diop also took the opportunity to introduce Asad Alam, World Bank Country Director-designate for South Africa (and Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland) who will be succeeding Ruth Kagia in that role on July 1, 2012.
Prior to visiting Pretoria, Mr. Diop visited Tanzania (where he attended meetings of the African Development Bank) and Ethiopia.
At the press conference, Mr. Diop spoke about three key challenges confronting Africa – food and energy crises and the need to boost regional trade – and where concerted actions could deliver lasting results.
He cited the major challenge of concurrent droughts in the Horn of Africa and Sahelian zone that are adversely impacting the lives of 23 million Africans. Africa’s energy situation is dire, he warned, noting that the continent needs to install 7,000 MW of new power generation capacity each year but only 1,000 MW is being achieved. Noting that only 10 percent of Africa’s hydropower potential had been tapped, he said the recent approval of the Lom Pangar Hydropower Project was an example of transformational projects needed to secure renewable sources of clean energy.
Africa trades more easily with the rest of the world than with itself. Citing a recent World Bank study, he said the economic slowdown in Eurozone countries could shave Africa’s growth by up to 1.3 percentage points. The paper labor associated with movement of goods is stark: up to 1,600 documents accompany each truck that a major retailer like ShopRite sends over the border.
“I look forward to continuing the close cooperation that exists between the Government of South Africa and the World Bank Group,” Mr. Diop added. “We need to dismantle the roadblocks to growth, to trade, all those things that prevent Africa from reaching its full potential, the Africa of one billion people and home of the two trillion dollar market.”
After South Africa, Mr. Diop’s next stop is his home country, Senegal from where he returns to Washington.