Your Excellencies, Prime Minister Kishida, President Saïed, Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the World Bank Group, congratulations on the 8th edition of TICAD, held for the first time in North Africa. I’m sorry I cannot be with you in person. I would also like to wish Prime Minister Kishida a speedy recovery.
Amid overlapping crises facing the world, Africa is particularly vulnerable. Vaccination rates remain low; many African countries face elevated debt levels and large debt service costs; food insecurity is rising, and trade restrictions are taking tolls on people in countries that are largely dependent on imported food.
Challenging times require effective responses to navigate crises and lay the foundations for more prosperous and resilient economies. The World Bank Group remains a committed, long-term partner to Africa. Nearly half of our IBRD and IDA funding goes to Africa, and we work together closely in several areas.
First, on trade. Trade is a powerful way to build resilient economies, reduce poverty and boost prosperity. At the World Bank Group, we are advising governments on necessary trade policies, including on the need to avoid export bans and other trade-restrictive measures.
We are also working to reduce the cost and time required to trade food and livestock and improve the volume and quality of goods that are traded. We have provided extensive financing to countries in the Great Lakes Region and countries like Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, and Nigeria to facilitate cross-border and internal trade and enhance the commercialization of selected value chains. We are building on what Morocco is doing in the agriculture and fertilizers sectors to bring about food security through commercial cooperation across the Sahara.
Second, we help African countries provide much needed, targeted social protection for the most vulnerable. We believe well-targeted social protection programs that benefit the poor offer much better value than untargeted food or fuel subsidies that are costly and benefit the richest consumers the most.
In Tunisia, the COVID-19 Social Protection Emergency Response Project is helping to protect the most vulnerable members of society with income support while simultaneously strengthening the efficiency and the resilience of the broader social protection system. The Sahel Women’s Empowerment and Demographic Dividend – or SWEDD – Program is another example, and we can scale up and achieve much greater impact.
We are also working with our client countries on subsidies. In Malawi, for example, we are working with the government to improve the targeting of their fertilizer subsidy program by supporting the most vulnerable households through better-adapted social protection programs, while providing more appropriate support to commercially oriented smallholder farmers.
And finally, much of our work in Africa is supported by IDA, our fund for the world’s poorest. We partner on health, education, climate action, resilient and quality infrastructure, disaster risk management, and debt – just to name a few. IDA supports both the public sector and the private sector, with IFC and MIGA, which are helping crowd in private investment. I want to reiterate my appreciation for Japan’s strong contribution to IDA20 and for hosting the launch event in Tokyo next month.
In closing, let me reaffirm my special thanks to Prime Minister Kishida for his leadership in promoting the cause of developing countries and effective international financial institutions, and our very strong partnership with Japan. Thank you as well to President Saïed, for hosting TICAD 8.