"Your Majesty, Prime Minister, Mr. President, Deputy Secretary-General, Excellencies.
I’d like to thank the Government of Japan, especially Prime Minister Fukuda, former Prime Minister Mori, and Foreign Minister Koumura for hosting this important TICAD conference in this wonderful city of Yokohama.
And I’d like to thank the people of Yokohama for being such warm and gracious hosts.
The World Bank Group is proud to be a co-organizer of this event, and I’m pleased that we’re joined by many partner countries and organizations, including from the private sector and civil society. And I’m absolutely delighted that there are so many African leaders here.
African support for the World Bank Group’s efforts to secure a strong IDA-15 last year were absolutely superb. I want to add a special thanks to President Kuffour who held this as chair of the African Union and his successor President Kikwete.
Together we achieved a record outlay of $41.6 billion for fiscal year 2009 through ’11. That’s a 30% increase over IDA-14, and that money that will start to flow in July of this year. I want to recognize Japan ’s contribution of 362.7 billion yen, that’s over $3 billion, a 30% increase in yen terms, making Japan the third largest IDA contributor.
I also want to thank the people of Japan. The Diet of Japan strongly supported IDA, in both houses, across party lines, and passed the government’s bill on April 9. I believe this is because of the support of the Japanese public.
So Japan ’s hosting of this meeting is very important. Although TICAD began in 1993, Japanese overseas assistance has traditionally focused on Asia. But Japan ’s outlook is changing. The Japanese public and officials are recognizing the growing importance of Africa. So it helps for Japan to hear from Africans about your plans.
Since overseas development assistance in Japan, like in many developed countries, has been under pressure in recent years, you are the ones who can explain the importance, and because Japan will host the G8 Summit in July, this TICAD meeting will help African interests to receive greater attention, including on the critical issues of food, agriculture, and climate change.
The World Bank Group’s goal for Africa is straight-forward: over the next 15 years or so, during this generation, your leadership generation, I believe Africa can become a new pole of global growth, just as we’ve seen over the past years that China, India, and others have become complementary poles of growth to the developed countries.
The reason I believe in this goal? Because I have heard what a new generation of Africans believe they can achieve, and I’ve seen encouraging progress.
When I visit Africa, I see the attempts to try to strengthen the social development agenda of the Millennium Development Goals: better nutrition; children in good schools with prospects for secondary education, technical education, tertiary education; maternal health; overcoming diseases; and closing the gender gap.
I also see that Africans want growth. They want what Japanese and Europeans wanted as they reconstructed some 60 years ago. Infrastructure, energy, regional integration connected to an open global trading system, with an expanding private sector for businesses small and large.
The World Bank helped Japan fund its first bullet trains and helped build the first Toyota plants. Africa can make it too.
Consider these facts: between 1995 and 2005, some 17 African countries (not the major energy-producers, but with about one third of the population) grew on average 5.5%. Another 8 energy-producers, with another third of Africa ’s population, achieved average growth of 7.4%. North Africa grew 4.2% from 1995 to 2006, and the numbers have been higher in recent years.
The World Bank Group will match these possibilities with our resources. In fiscal year ’07, we committed $7.5 billion to sub-Saharan Africa. That’s a 30% increase above 2006. That number includes $1.4 billion from IFC to help Africa develop its private sector, and we plan to double that number by 2011.
It includes a boost in infrastructure of almost $1 billion to $2.4 billion.
We want to leverage our investments to draw others, private and public. IFC is now working with sovereign wealth funds to develop African equity as a new investment vehicle, what I called in April as a “1% solution,” because if we can tap just 1% of the approximately $3 trillion in sovereign wealth funds, that’s $30 billion equity investment for Africa.
I see an African economy united by its great rivers, its expanding telecom and IT networks, roads, ports, airports…
We need to tap the creativity and energy of Africa ’s greatest resource – its people.
Yet Africans also know the risks to the opportunities. We need to work with the African Union on the dangers of states facing conflicts or breakdowns, or post-conflict recovery. We need to best killer diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.
And now we need to face the risk of high energy and food prices. The signs of social distress and unrest are very clear. Many of you have raised them with me personally in the time I’ve been here. There are inflation dangers, too.
With your help, over 150 countries agreed to a “New Deal for Global Food Policy” at the World Bank’s Spring Meeting in April.
We’ll discuss this in more detail tomorrow. Today, I want to assure you that the World Bank Group will work with WFP, FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, the African Development Bank, and others on rapid needs assessments, and most important, moving to action. We need safety net projects with our partners at the World Food Program. We need seeds and fertilizers for small farmers with our partners at FAO and IFAD. And we need to seize the opportunity to expand African agricultural production and productivity.
Our Vice President for Africa Obiageli Ezekwesili has been a head of this, and has already started to double agricultural lending to Africa to $800 million, working NEPAD’s comprehensive African agricultural development. Thierry Tanoh, our Vice President at IFC, for the private sector, is also increasing African investment and advisory support for African agriculture, from $75 million in FY08, to a target of $410 million in 2010.
And I’m asking our Board this very week to adopt a global food crisis response facility to enable us to act in real time, in weeks, or latest in months – but certainly not a year to try to boost grant support and other aid for your countries under stress. We’ll work with our African partners to get through this danger.
We’ll work with Japan and the G8 on the policy agenda, whether related to opening markets, bio-fuels, easing export restrictions, or research for the seeds and development for Africa ’s future.
So I’d like again to thank our Japanese hosts and all of you. It’s a moment of opportunity and risk. So it’s an excellent time to listen and learn from you how the World Bank Group and others can become better partners to seize Africa ’s opportunity.