WASHINGTON, June 20, 2018—The Board of Executive Directors of the World Bank Group have endorsed a new strategy to partner with Sub-Saharan African countries and regional bodies to deepen regional integration. It will reposition World Bank Group support to help the continent realize fuller benefits from integration over the period 2018-2023.
Titled “Supporting Africa’s Transformation: Regional Integration & Cooperation Assistance Strategy”, the strategy will promote economic diversification and strengthening of regional value chains, build sub-regional energy and digital markets, help create productive jobs for youth, and tackle cross-border health and climate change risks.
“The World Bank Group brings a unique combination of financing, policy support, and convening power that can help facilitate collective action to address regional infrastructure gaps and policy and regulatory barriers to integration. We are buoyed by the high level of commitment of African leaders towards promoting the regional integration agenda,” said Makhtar Diop, World Bank Vice President for Africa.
The World Bank Group remains an important financier of regional integration initiatives in Sub-Saharan Africa, with existing commitments of over $10 billion. Over the next three years, financing will increase by over $6 billion to assist the continent in addressing barriers to integration. In addition, the provision of technical assistance and better analytics will help facilitate collective action by countries in priority areas. The strategy has benefited from wide-ranging consultations with policy makers, regional bodies, and the private sector in Africa.
“Regional integration is Africa’s most important task and infrastructure is its backbone. The World Bank Group’s Regional Integration Strategy, developed in consultation with the African Union, comes at a critical time when Africa is making steady progress on its economic integration instruments, namely the African Continental Free Trade Area, the Protocol on Free Movement of People, and the Single African Air Transport Market,” said Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission.
The private sector has a large role to play in the regional integration agenda. “The World Bank and the International Finance Corporation will bring together both public and private sector solutions to tackle integration challenges. Our joint efforts will notably target the expansion of regional markets and the diseconomies of scale which are holding back rapid development of the private sector,” said Sergio Pimenta, Vice President of the International Finance Corporation for the Middle East and Africa.