The World Bank has launched a new approach to Africa’s development, focusing on infrastructure and improving basic services, rather than emphasising economic stability.
Endorsed yesterday by the Bank’s board of Executive Directors, the strategy titled “Africa’s Future and the World Bank’s Support to it” will be run on an annual budget of about US$80 billion.
It replaces the African Action Plan, which was described by the vice-president for Africa Department at the World Bank, Obiageli Ezekwesili, as “inadequate” in transforming Africa’s economy.
In a video conference with journalists from across Africa, yesterday, Ezekwesili said the ambitious strategy was crafted over a year through extensive research and consultations in Africa to ascertain the continent’s priority areas.
“The plan shifts from a more general focus on seeking economic stability to emphasise attention on competitiveness, employment, reducing vulnerability and improving public sector capacity to provide critical services in education, healthcare and basic infrastructure,” Ezekwesili said.
She added that Africa, particularly Rwanda, showed stronger economic growth that helped to improve the lives of the people, and that the plan is to intervene and compliment what both the private and public sectors had achieved.
“In Rwanda we have supported programmes addressing the connection of provinces to the national gateway in order to enable rural access to information; that is what gives the citizens the opportunity to participate in the democratisation process and demand for accountability,” she said.
“Though we are confident that it is the right approach, we also want to make sure that WB is ready to adapt as Africa continues to change and progress.”
With the new plan, the World Bank is optimistic that Africa could be at the brink of an economic takeoff, much like Asia did 30 years ago.