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Speeches & Transcripts

Opening Statement, Third Sudan Consortium 2008

May 5, 2008

Oby Ezekwesili, Vice President, Africa Region The Sudan Consortium Oslo, Norway

As Prepared for Delivery

Key Messages

  • Welcome to Oslo; thanks to Norway; condolences to GoSS.
  • CPA implementation is the crucial foundation for all else.
  • Support to fragile and conflict-affected states a corporate priority of the World Bank.
  • Slow start, but MDTFs now have significant achievements.
  • Sudan is at a tipping point; which way will it go?
  • Sudan needs a credible, broadly owned strategic approach to help deliver progress in key areas—such as broadening sources of growth, basic services EITI++, and public expenditure management.
  • We all need to work together for Sudan to tip the right way.
  • As one of the organizers of the Consortium, welcome to Oslo from the World Bank.
  • I want warmly to thank the Government of Norway for hosting this meeting.
  • I must also express my condolences to the people of Sudan, and particularly to the Government of Southern Sudan, for last Friday’s tragic airplane disaster.
  • In 2005 Sudan faced a tipping point. The CPA tipped Sudan in favor of a new beginning.  Since then both Governments have done much to build on that new start. And everyone recognizes that CPA implementation is the crucial foundation for all else.
  • The challenges are many and daunting. But, the cost of failing to address them is enormous, not only for the citizens of Sudan but also for the neighboring countries and beyond. The leaders of Sudan and the international community therefore have a shared responsibility to address such challenges. This is also why Bob Zoellick, the Bank’s president, has stressed support for fragile states as one of the six institutional priorities he has laid out.
  • Development without peace is impossible, but equally, peace without development can be very, very fragile.  Development and peace processes are always intertwined and mutually dependent. So development programs are critical to the CPA. This is why donors supported the CPA in Oslo three years ago with generous pledges toward Sudan’s development programs, including the establishment of the two MDTFs.  This meeting is an opportunity to review the results of this partnership, and look ahead.
  • Although the MDTFs are only a part of the overall development efforts, these two channels have delivered notable progress that affects the people of Sudan very directly.  If truth be told, it did take us time to move progressively into action.  Today, we have changed our processes to be nimbler and more flexible, and with 43 staff in country, we are confident we now have a strong team.  Moreover—consistent with the Paris Agenda—it is strengthened by the presence of donor secondees, who have been crucial in filling early skill gaps.
  • Examples of achievements supported by the MDTFs include:
  • A new national currency which has been introduced successfully and rapidly, to provide a stable monetary foundation for the economy.  It is also a symbol of national unity.
  • In the North, the Community Development Fund has taken off.  It has brought resources to many communities that had not benefited from development projects in the past, and mobilized many local communities into development action.  They have built many new school buildings, opened health posts, and dug wells.
  • In the South, important initial steps have been taken to rebuild the system of basic service delivery.  In the first phase, an Emergency Project delivered medical supplies to 700 health facilities across the ten states of Southern Sudan, and 1 million textbooks and 40,000 school kits to 2,600 primary schools.  And significant investments have been made, along with other partners, in the main road network, helping break the virtual isolation of Southern Sudan from the world economy.
  • I was delighted that, in yesterday morning’s discussion, Minister Kuol Athian Mawein said he was “happy with the MDTF model”, and his Government was committed to a second phase.  It was also welcome that donors called the MDTF an “effective instrument for donor harmonization and coordination”.  As a partnership instrument, all partners should value the MDTFs.  These comments lend credence to the progress the Bank also sees.
  • The CPA provides a framework of wealth and power sharing, and it has a vision of Sudan which responds to the needs of its diverse people and is shared by a broad majority.  In continuing to move towards this vision, Sudan is confronted with a complex agenda, and is operating in an environment where many aspects remain fluid and complex—recent food prices rises being but one example.  But these difficulties should not divert our collective attention from the fact that economically, socially and politically Sudan is at another tipping point.  Can the country adopt a virtuous cycle of economic and political progress, and so move beyond its past?
  • If Sudan is, as we hope, to tip in the direction of sustainable development, it needs a real partnership from the international community.  But we all also need to recognize that outsiders cannot build Sudan.  Only the Sudanese themselves can deliver the coherence necessary for Sudan to begin to realize the potential of the country.  It is for the leaders and citizens of Sudan to demonstrate to the international community that they have a strategic approach that is credible, broadly owned and being translated into real outcomes, in ways that contribute to the CPA’s vision.
  • In this regard, I would like to table a few suggestions (which are not exhaustive).
  • A key challenge is to take advantage of the oil wealth, which is by nature transitory, to build a much broader base of growth.  As one of yesterday’s technical sessions discussed, this will require creation of a strong environment for private sector growth, but it will also require investment in education and other basic services.  Given that States are responsible for basic service delivery this also means continued efforts to increase the allocation of resources to the States.
  • Another important signal of commitment to poverty reduction would be participation in EITI—the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.  And building the capacity to underpin that commitment means introducing transparency and accountability in the whole “value chain” of extracting natural resources, from the initial development to revenue collection to the use of the resources, as set out in EITI++.
  • Delivering on these and other priorities of course requires capable and accountable government institutions.  While both Governments have made some progress since 2005, both governance and public financial management remain important and unfinished agendas.
  • In conclusion, over the last three years we have demonstrated we are stalwart partners of the Sudanese people, in supporting implementation of the CPA.  And that experience provides a strong platform on which to build.  We at the Bank stand ready to put our resources and best staff behind a mutual effort to change Sudan’s future for the better, including by scaling up our strategic and analytical work.  More broadly, I hope this Consortium meeting can be a moment when we learn from the past, and all recommit ourselves to Sudan’s future.  And do so in ways that expand how we work together, while each partner takes full responsibility for their own role.  By so doing, we can all help Sudan to tip toward a future of sustainable development.