Speeches & Transcripts

World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick's Remarks at the Zambia Malaria Booster Signing Ceremony

December 17, 2010

Robert B. Zoellick


QUESTION:  Good afternoon, Mr. President.  My name is [inaudible], I work for the BBC.

I just wanted to ask--to find out from you, Zambia will be heading to elections next year, and many countries tend to overspend and move away from their policies when they go into an election like that one.  And then, other than that, I'd also want you to give your opinions regarding the Ivory Coast situation.

MR. ZOELLICK:  Well, first, because of a very extensive reform program, Zambia received a very important international debt forgiveness from its donors.  And so we and other donors are obviously very careful about any build-up of debt.


But this project we have today is a grant, so that doesn't build--[noise interference]--that doesn't build up any debt, and we feel that the overall investment program of the government is consistent with a sound financial policy.


Now, at the World Bank this year, we'll be able to provide about $262 million of support to Zambia.  Much of that comes from our IDA funding, and we were just very pleased to have a replenishment for the next three years of IDA of almost $50 billion.  So, that's a big shot in the arm for Zambia and 78 other countries that are the beneficiaries of that, which is either grants or very long-term loans without interest.


So, we feel that we've got a good partner with the government.  We believe that actually some of the money that we can invest can help build future growth and revenues, including in the agricultural sector.  So, I had a chance today to meet people from mining and agriculture and parliamentarians and others.


On Côte d'Ivoire, I think it's a tragedy.  I had a chance to visit Côte d'Ivoire earlier in the year.  We were hoping that there would be a free, fair election process that would allow the people of Côte d'Ivoire to choose.  Côte d'Ivoire is not only important for the people living there but it's a key country in all of West Africa.


So, we, along with the African Development Bank and the UN, have said that, until the situation is cleared up and the election process has been able to go to its fair and honest conclusion, that we have to hold up our financing and hold up the debt relief.  And I hope that with the help of the UN and ECOWAS and the African Union, that there can be a peaceful resolution to what was a fair election process.

QUESTION:  How much does that involve for the World Bank in particular?

MR. ZOELLICK:  There's different amounts of the debt.  The debt was--do you recall the amounts?  We'll have to get back to you on the exact amounts.

SPEAKER:  Any other questions?

QUESTION:  [Off microphone.]


So, I will ask my question from the regional point of view.


QUESTION:  Yeah.  We all appreciate this noble cause that the role you are taking as the World Bank.  I want to establish how much since the program started the Bank has spent in southern Africa on the fight against malaria.

MR. ZOELLICK:  I think the amount--let me see if I can double-check here.


We had about--since 2005, we provided about $800 million in funding for malaria control efforts.  In April, we announced 200 million in funding to focus on Zambia and six other countries where Malaria has taken an especially high toll: the DRC, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.


But we are just one of a series of other partners, and that's one of the reasons why this is a very important program, because we were able to work with USAID, the Global Fund, the U.S. President's Malaria Initiative, the Malaria Control and Evaluation Partnership in Africa, and with the UN Special Envoy, Ray Chambers.


So, this is a worldwide effort, and this amount that we put forward today was because, as you heard, Zambia made very good progress, but there's been a little slippage, and we figured that if we could get more insecticide-treated nets and help with some of the funding for the insecticides we could get that back on track, and we have to--we need to work with the government, we need to distribute the nets, and we need to work with the other international partners. 


So, the people of the region, in Zambia, should see this as a sign of an international partnership.  It's partly the Bank, but it's also other partners.


But the key, of course, is to make sure that the people use the bed nets and use the insecticide, and that's why the little dramatic performance was a good story.  Sometimes people just refuse, and they're putting their lives at risk.

QUESTION:  [Off microphone.]


There's always been a to some extent here donor fatigue in certain areas of funding.  How long do you think the Bank is going to support this problem, the fight against malaria?

MR. ZOELLICK:  Well, we want to eliminate malaria as a threat, and there's a great opportunity.  I mean, if you look around the world, malaria has been eliminated in many countries.  We used to have malaria in my country, in the United States.  You don't have malaria there anymore, and it's a question of following through and on taking the precautionary measures and not allowing this silent killer to return.


But what we've learned about malaria, and we've seen this over a century, is some of the first doctors that treated it--some of the first doctors were British who treated it--they thought, well, this could be eliminated in a year or two.  Well, it keeps coming back, so we have to keep vigilant on it.


Now, you asked about our support.  As long as they've got partners that are willing to commit to follow through, we'll want to work with them.  So, there are some problems in the healthcare sector in Zambia, but the government's external auditors--and they, frankly, removed some of the people from various positions.  So, the other key issue is good governance, fighting corruption, good transparency provisions, how to strengthen the government's overall procedures.  So, we believe that Zambia is a very good partner for the World Bank and we want to work to help strengthen those capabilities, too.


I should let someone else ask a question.

QUESTION:  My question has to do with the climate change and how it affects developing countries, and what is the Bank doing to help countries like Zambia handle the effects of climate change?  And do you think, after Cancun, there is still hope for developing countries in the climate agenda?

MR. ZOELLICK:  I hope so.


I was in Cancun last week, and we at the Bank are working on a number of different levels.  There's a big benefit for energy efficiency.  A lot of resources are lost, and that creates additional greenhouse gases, but it also costs money.


Second, we're working on alternative energy sources.  There's hydropower, for example, here in Zambia.  We're working in South Africa with some solar and some biomass and other development.


Third, there is movement on avoiding deforestation, which the cutting down of forests creates about 18 percent of the greenhouse gases in the world.  So, we're working with other partners to pay countries to preserve their forestland and to work with the native peoples and also to protect the wildlife.


Another area, a fourth area, that I think has a lot of promise for Sub-Saharan Africa, is agriculture and soil carbon, and we pushed forward an initiative that, as you probably know, the next climate change meeting will be hosted in South Africa, COP 17, and I also met with President Zuma and talked about moving this forward.


People estimate that about 13 percent of greenhouse gases can be absorbed through soil, through proper tilling methods.  And so, this would be a wonderful opportunity to look for international resources to help with sustainable agriculture, food security, but also carbon absorption.  So, there are many possibilities here.


We also had an initiative that--the carbon markets that you heard about have not benefitted Sub-Saharan Africa as much as other regions.  The resources from those programs that helped--about 2 percent of them have gone to Sub-Saharan Africa.  Through the ones that we've done at the Bank, we've had about 20 percent.  So, we know that with the right support for capacity, those can be built up.


So, there are many issues in climate change, trying to stop overall emissions from developed countries and other parts, but we as a development institution have some climate investment funds that work with developing countries.  We have about $6.4 billion of this funding.  We've been able to leverage it seven- or eight-to-one, meaning we're able to get other funds from the Bank, from governments, from the private sector, and our strategy is to try to work along that overall continuum:  energy efficiency, alternative energy, hydropower, forestation, soil, carbon markets, and not wait for a final treaty but make a difference on the ground.


And I think one of the things you saw come out of the Cancun meeting was that approach.  In other words, let's not make the perfect the enemy of the good, and this can be of help to Sub-Saharan Africa, too.

QUESTION:  Thank you very much.


QUESTION:  Thank you, colleagues.

MR. ZOELLICK:  Thank you.