WASHINGTON, August 1, 2018 – The World Bank responded to strong demand from countries in the Middle East and North Africa Region (MENA) for development finance, global expertise and innovation during the financial year that ended on June 30th, 2018. In addition to US$6.3 billion in new financial commitments during the past financial year, the Bank also delivered a wide range of analytical products to help MENA countries transform their economies, and lay the foundations for inclusive growth and job creation.
The record commitment included US$5.9 billion from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which supports development in middle-income countries, and US$430 million from the International Development Association, the Bank’s fund for the world’s poorest countries. The World Bank’s knowledge services included support for the region’s high-income countries, through its Reimbursable Advisory Services. The program, which reached US$55 million during the past financial year, supported efforts to diversify economies and promote private sector development, while supporting human development through the reform of key public services such as education, health and social protection.
“We are committed to helping the region overcome its challenges and reach its full potential, and our investments match that commitment,” said Ferid Belhaj, World Bank Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa. “Going forward, we will focus on the region’s young people, with a particular focus on developing their capacity to harness the power of new technologies and create a dynamic and innovative private sector that can become a new source of growth and jobs.”
The World Bank strategy for the Middle East and North Africa aims to foster peace and stability by rebuilding trust between citizens and their governments, promoting greater regional cooperation, strengthening the capacity to cope with the impacts of instability, and supporting recovery and reconstruction wherever possible. Guided by this strategy, Bank engagement over the past financial year included US$500 million in support of public education reforms in Egypt, a US$200 million project in Morocco to link farmers with markets, a US$225 million project to expand public transportation for the benefit of both Syrian refugees and the communities hosting them in Lebanon, and an additional US$400 million for an emergency project in Iraq to rebuild infrastructure and restore services in areas liberated from DAESH.
“We will continue to be guided by our strategy,’ added Belhaj, “while acknowledging that government budgets are under immense pressure and that the private sector has a much greater role to play in financing investments in critical infrastructure. Following our successful partnership with Egypt to attract billions of dollars in private investments in the energy sector and ending the power cuts that were affecting people and businesses, we are working with governments across the region to create the right conditions to mobilize private finance.”
The World Bank currently has a portfolio totaling US$17 billion in the MENA region. The portfolio covers a diverse range of sectors such as agriculture, energy, education, the environment, health, social protection, trade and transportation.