Economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa remained robust in 2012. Output increased by an estimated 4.7 percent, and projections for 2013–15 forecast growth of more than 5 percent a year. Poverty has declined, with the share of people living on less than $1.25 a day falling from 58 percent in 1996 to about 48 percent in 2010. These improvements notwithstanding, enormous development challenges remain.
World Bank assistance
The Bank approved $8.2 billion for 95 projects this fiscal year. Support included $42 million from IBRD and $8.2 billion from IDA. The leading sectors were Transportation ($1.8 billion); Public Administration, Law, and Justice ($1.8 billion); and Energy and Mining ($1.2 billion). Building on the Africa strategy adopted in 2011, the focuses were on energy, transport, education, health, agriculture, social protection, water, and urban development.
Finding regional solutions
Africa’s infrastructure deficit imposes a significant economic cost on the continent, reducing growth by up to 2 percentage points a year. Recognizing the need for regional solutions, the Bank is working to support countries in transformational projects that reach beyond a single country. One example is the Kandadji Program, which integrates regional, national, and local efforts and promotes greater synergy among the agriculture, environment, energy, and water sectors in the Niger River Basin. In October 2012, the Bank approved $203 million to finance Phase 2A of the Niger Basin Water Resources Development and Sustainable Ecosystems Management Program, part of its long-term solution to recurring drought and chronic food and power shortages in the Sahel. This zero-interest loan from IDA will benefit some of the poorest countries in the world. Financed by 10 donors, the program will help to increase food production, generate more electricity, create jobs, and develop economic opportunities for communities in the Niger Basin. It will be part of the West Africa Power Pool, which improves cross-border flows of electricity by integrating national power systems into a unified regional system. Programs like Kandadji will be vital to improving infrastructure in Africa, without which development will falter.
Building resilience in the Sahel
Drought, poor accessibility to food, environmental degradation, displacement, and conflict are expected to result in food insecurity for about 10 million people in the Sahel region in 2013. To address these challenges, the Board of Executive Directors was briefed about the current situation, and in April 2013, presented “The Sahel—Toward a Regional Approach,” the region’s new strategy to support development and stability in the Sahel. The strategy comprises a comprehensive investment program along two strategic pillars: (1) vulnerability and resilience, and (2) economic opportunity and integration.
Improving skills, education, and health
Africans’ skills are being developed on many fronts. Through IDA and in partnership with the Global Partnership for Education, the Bank is strengthening basic education.
The Bank is the largest contributor to higher education institutions in Africa. The Africa Centers of Excellence project—a network of high-quality public health laboratories in the cross-border areas of Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda—could significantly build capacity in science and technology.
At the 2013 Spring Meetings, the Bank and the U.S. Department of State hosted the “Africa Health Forum 2013: Finance and Capacity for Results” in collaboration with Harmonization for Health in Africa. Drawing ministers of finance and health from 30 African countries, the forum sought feedback on the needs of African countries and shared key messages, including the message that better health, nutrition, and population outcomes preceded economic growth around the world and are thus indispensable to development.
The Bank has been spearheading the shift toward greater emphasis on results in health. Initial outcomes from results-based pilot projects in 15 African countries have been promising. The Health Millennium Development Goals Program for Results in Ethiopia, approved in 2013, is the first program to use the Bank’s new Program-for-Results (PforR) financing instrument on health in Africa.
The region’s knowledge products highlight ideas that change the way practitioners think about African development. Africa Can Help Feed Africa, released in 2012, identifies the regulatory barriers to trade and competition that must be removed if Africa is to reach its potential in regional food trade. It suggests that regional trade in staples, which is not being exploited, offers the potential to improve food security and growth.
Growing Africa: Unlocking the Potential of Agribusiness, published in 2013, shows how Africa’s farmers and agribusinesses could create a trillion dollar food market by 2030. It recommends engaging with strategic “good practice” investors, strengthening safeguards and land administration systems, and screening investments for sustainable growth.
|The regional report for Africa||PDF (194KB)|