World Bank President tours three African countries to boost investment

zoellick“Some of the biggest gains in fighting poverty in Africa can be made if investors and donors boost support for agriculture, helping Africa achieve food security, while improving rural incomes and facilitating post-harvest marketing, conservation and agricultural processing,” World Bank President Robert Zoellick said as he prepares to start a three-nation African tour next week.

Zoellick is visiting the Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda, to encourage investor and donor support to help the world’s poorest continent cope with the global economic crisis, the World Bank has said in a press release copied to

He is expected to see up-close some of the damage the financial crisis has wrought on these three countries of Africa’s Great Lakes region, the Bank said.

Ahead of his trip, Zoellick said he will encourage investors to take advantage of investment opportunities that continue to beckon from Africa, despite the crisis. Opportunities exist even in African countries still mired in, or emerging from conflict, such as DR Congo, post-genocide countries such as Rwanda, and relatively stable countries such as Uganda.

The funding most urgently needed should help expand Africa’s share of global and intra-African trade, foster regional integration, curb armed conflicts, and build the crucial infrastructure in energy, transport and irrigation to promote manufacturing and industrialization on the continent, he added.

The World Bank president is visiting Africa within weeks of the Group of 20 Summit in Pittsburgh in September.  World Bank Group support for Africa
is mainly provided through the International Development Association (IDA) and International Finance Corporation (IFC).  IDA provides grants and low-interest loans to the world’s 79 poorest countries, half of which are in Africa, the Bank said.

According to the Bank, the IDA has over the last year committed more resources than initially planned in order to help African countries cope with the negative effects of the global crisis.  IFC provides investments and advisory services to build the private sector in developing countries.  IFC’s commitments in Africa have grown from $445 million in FY05 to $1.82 billion in FY09.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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