Will the international community be at Africa’s side in the latest crises?
These days, it feels like one crisis is driving out the next – Covid-19, conflict, climate, debt, etc. The latest is a global food crisis that is reaching alarming proportions. Across Africa, more than 282 million people are food insecure – and that number is growing.
One of the worst aspects of crises is the tendency to become inward-looking and preoccupied with one’s own interests – when in fact more solidarity is needed. This is particularly true for Africa, which is often hit by crises that do not originate in the continent but whose populations pay the fallout.
An effective response to the crisis is therefore needed – but one that goes beyond the immediate impact of the crisis to support the longer-term development agenda.
Sometimes it seems the world has forgotten about the goals of ending extreme poverty, educating the world’s children, or providing universal access to health care, as the Sustainable Development Goals show. The SDGs are alive on paper but not in action.
Now is not the time to cut back on engagement, but rather the time to double down on the partnerships that matter. It is time to make a difference in the lives of families, so that parents can send their children to school, so that mothers and babies can benefit from adequate postnatal care, so that younger generations have a chance to find a job and achieve their dreams.
All of this requires resources and human capital that will ultimately drive Africa’s success.
African leaders face the dual challenge of responding to crises without losing sight of the longer-term development needs of their country or the continent.
For these leaders, an additional challenge is that while OECD countries may have much greater financial resources, this is much more difficult in Africa – as we have seen during the COVID pandemic when countries rich were able to spend 5 times more on stimulus packages than what African governments were able to spend.
The challenge for the international community then is how can we best support Africa in these difficult times and deliver real action, real partnership and real money?
The World Bank is ready. This week I am in Dakar to meet with over a dozen Heads of State from across Africa to kick off the implementation of our latest three-year $93 billion global program – approximately 2/3 of which will support the Africa Development Program – implemented by the International Development Association (IDA).
IDA is the world’s largest source of concessional funds, including grants for low-income countries, helping them seize opportunities to reduce poverty and spur inclusive growth.
This latest replenishment of IDA resources will allow our support to Africa to increase even more in the years to come. Africa became the first region to benefit from IDA resources, which increased its annual program more than tenfold from about $3 billion in 2000 to more than $30 billion today. This support, along with our growing presence on the ground across Africa, enables us to work hand in hand with governments, the private sector and civil society to deliver on the continent’s ambitious development agenda.
African leaders have, through the African Union process, set clear goals – from digitalization to electricity to education – and we are committed to helping Africa translate these ambitions into strong programs. that can, in a short period of time, improve people’s lives and transform the continent.
I am energized by the many conversations about the limitless opportunities of the African continent. A young population overflows with energy and dynamism. A new free trade agreement can bring huge gains and African leaders are looking for their own solutions.
I am also energized by the great potential that IDA, as a development fund, offers to the African continent. IDA has been well supported by international partners and well used by countries. And my hope for this week’s dialogue is that we emerge with ambitious and concrete plans to maximize the use of IDA to support countries as they weather the storm of multiple and overlapping crises, and put in place places the policies, investments and innovations that will drive resilience, recovery, sustainable growth and prosperity for all in Africa.