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Speeches & TranscriptsJanuary 29, 2024

Remarks by Axel van Trotsenburg, World Bank Senior Managing Director, at the Italy-Africa Summit

Excellencies and honorary guests.

It is an honor and pleasure to join the Italy-Africa Summit.

The World Bank strongly welcomes the focus on Africa and particularly the Italian initiative to put Africa on the G7 agenda. 

Africa is a continent of opportunity and, on the basis of Africa’s own plans, is looking for a strengthened and different partnership – a partnership that should always focus on creating new economic and social opportunities for Africa.

With the demographic trends, the expectation is that by 2050, one in four people in the world will be African, including one-third of all young people.

To exploit this demographic dividend, public and private investments at scale and impact are needed!

That is the reason why the World Bank has systematically been stepping up over the last 2 decades our African engagement, which is now reaching about half of our operations.

Our public sector arm is investing about $34 billion per year in Africa. 

We believe that the international community, both public and private sector, can further expand investment in the continent – and that by working together, we can make a big difference.

One important area is energy.

600 million people still have no access.

We can and we should change this.

This will require a completely different partnership between African states and international partners with a sharp focus to define our common objectives.

Can we provide energy access for hundreds of millions of people within the next 10 years, and what will it take?

Clearly it will take tens of billions of dollars of investments.

Let me affirm that the World Bank is willing to provide billions of dollars in support of Africa’s plans as articulated by African leaders and the African Union. And we are already working on a new regional energy program that will put $5 billion program towards bringing renewable energy for 100 million people in East Africa over the next 7 years. 

We also see this ambition reflected in Plan Mattei, especially with regard to the expansion of renewable energy – it is very encouraging that there is growing consensus on a stepped-up approach towards this critical infrastructure investment. 

We cannot work in isolation – we have to work together and act in concert. 

I very much welcome this summit as an important moment to rally the international support behind Africa – behind its energy plan, but more generally behind the overall development agenda.

Collectively we can move the needle in this regard – and let us not forget, development delayed is development denied.

For the World Bank, this means we will work hard with you and others to ensure successful IDA21 replenishment in order to mobilize the needed resources to accompany African countries in the implementation of their ambitious development plans.

The World Bank stands ready to embrace the stepped-up ambition for Africa and will work with all of you towards achieving that goal.  Thank you.


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