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World Bank Launches Plan to Spark Investment in Africa


This week, the World Bank is launching an unusual initiative to get Africans living in Europe to invest back home - through a competition, complete with cash prizes, for the best development projects targeting sub-Saharan Africa. Lisa Bryant has more from Paris.

Known as the Development Marketplace for African Diaspora in Europe or D-MADE, the World Bank competition is being sponsored by the French, Belgian and Dutch governments. The idea is to get the African diaspora in Europe to invest their money, knowledge and imagination in their home countries by coming up with innovative development proposals.

World Bank communications officer Anne Davis says the initiative is part of larger efforts to get Africans living abroad more involved in their continent's development.

"There are an estimated three million voluntary African migrants in the US and Europe," she said. "One point seven million are in Europe. And African countries themselves have realized that's an untapped resource. "

The Bank will be advertising its new competition through meetings and through the African media. The 15 or so best submissions will be awarded cash prizes, ranging from about $14,000 to $55,000.

"We're looking for any project that can show entrepreneurship, because that's the first theme of this development marketplace targeting the African diaspora, and they need to be able to demonstrate the impact on the social welfare of African communities to create profitable businesses, create jobs or invest in local infrastructure," said Davis. "It's very broad."

Eventually, Davis says, the Bank wants to expand the competition to include Africans and other immigrants living in the U.S. and elsewhere.

But for now, Africans in Europe can learn more about the competition on the Internet, at www.dmade.org.

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