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Washington, March 11, 2005 - World Bank President James D. Wolfensohn today welcomed the release of the Commission for Africa Report with the following statement:
"The World Bank Group strongly endorses the Commission for Africa Report and we hope that the global community will work to advance its principal recommendations. We share the hope expressed in the report that the unacceptable trends of impoverishment and marginalization in the world's poorest region can be reversed.
African governments can build on progress already evident in a number of countries that have reduced conflict, are addressing corruption, and developing national strategies to generate economic growth and cut poverty levels. The international community, for its part, needs to deliver on promises for substantial increases in aid and debt reduction, as well as improved market access.
The report calls for a doubling of aid to Sub-Saharan Africa, including an investment of $150 billion in infrastructure over the next decade. Investing in assets such as rural roads, safe water, ports, a transport network and power generation, in addition to health and education, can lead to growth and job creation, helping Africa make progress towards the Millennium Development Goals.
The Bank Group stands ready to scale up its assistance to Africa, and to work with countries to help them help themselves in attacking the obstacles to greater growth and poverty reduction."
Gobind Nankani, World Bank Vice-President for the Africa Region, stated, "We welcome this report and expect that the discussions surrounding it will help energize the international community to accelerate its work in partnership with African countries." Noting that net aid flows to Africa have remained essentially flat in the last two years, despite promises for increased support, he added that "the report makes a convincing case for urgent action and concrete avenues for moving forward."
Mr. Nankani went on to say, "The Commission puts a strong emphasis on accelerating economic growth, stressing that poor people must have the opportunity to participate in economic expansion. This is consistent with the World Bank's strategy of supporting shared growth for African countries. We also agree with the Commission that to realize higher growth, and share its benefits, Africa will require new investments in infrastructure, agriculture and human development, including tertiary education, all implemented through country-led development programs."
"International assistance alone is not enough," added Mr. Nankani. "The private sector will drive Africa's growth. We must work, country by country, to help improve the climate for investment and encourage the emergence of a vibrant African private sector. Because obstacles and opportunities diverge among African countries, strategies for growth and poverty reduction must be country-specific, targeting the most significant constraints to progress."
Underlining the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad) and the African Union's constructive role in mitigating a number of crises on the Continent, Mr. Nankani added that "the emergence of strong African leadership holds great promise for moving forward."
Noting that the Bank has doubled its commitments to African development over the last 4 years, Mr. Nankani added that "the World Bank is prepared to accelerate its efforts in support of African-led strategies for peace, growth and poverty reduction, working closely with all development partners." In closing, Mr. Nankani expressed the hope that major international calls to action such as the Report of the Millennium Task Force and the Commission for Africa Report would be met by concrete action on behalf of the international community and African governments, leading to a more hopeful future for Africa's people.
For more information about the World Bank's work in Africa,
please visit: www.worldbank.org/afr.