Good morning everyone. Welcome to the World Bank and IMF Spring Meetings.
I am honored to be joining you this morning as World Bank Group President.
I’m also grateful to work with such a strong team of talented and dedicated development professionals.
The World Bank Group plays an increasingly vital role in leading on global challenges that people face in developing countries. Our mission is clear and important.
The Bank’s role is particularly important in poorer countries, where the global economic slowdown that began last year hits people the hardest.
Global growth lost momentum throughout 2018, falling to 2.7 percent in the fourth quarter, down from 3.3 percent in the Q1, based on World Bank calculations.
The deceleration was seen in both advanced and developing economies, and it coincided with three other warning signs: waning structural reforms in major economies; financial stress in some large emerging markets; and elevated policy uncertainty globally.
On current trends, per capita income growth in Sub-Saharan Africa, as a whole, is now projected to stay below 1 percent until at least 2021, which elevates the risk of a further concentration of extreme poverty on the continent. Growth in median incomes will also be weak.
This fact is extremely troubling, because it jeopardizes the World Bank’s primary goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030.
Globally, extreme poverty has dropped to 700 million at the last count, that’s down from much higher levels in the 1990s and 2000s. But the number of people living in extreme poverty is on the rise in Sub-Saharan Africa.
By 2030, nearly 9 in 10 extremely poor people will be Africans, and half of the world’s poor will be living in fragile and conflict-affected settings.
This calls for urgent action—by countries themselves, and by the global community.
Fortunately, the World Bank Group is financially strong. And with the capital package – which was agreed to a year ago at the Spring Meetings, and which I was proud to support – the organization is becoming even more responsive, efficient, and effective.
This week we at the World Bank Group have joined the IMF in welcoming our 189 shareholders to the Spring Meetings.
I have already begun meeting with member countries and other stakeholders to discuss the challenges ahead, and to advance the broader global development agenda.
I am happy to join these important discussions.
Thank you again for coming this morning. I will be glad to take a few questions.