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World Bank Increases Funds to Africa

The World Bank has increased lending to African countries to about one billion dollars, an 18 percent boost from the last fiscal year. The increase was contained in a report released Tuesday night here in Washington, ahead of its annual meeting, which is due in mid-October. Some economic analysts have hailed the advance and believe it has come at the right time for boosting the economies of African countries significantly, especially when many of those governments’ economies are reportedly experiencing strong growth.

Chief economist John Page of the World Bank’s Africa division tells reporter Peter Clottey what prompted the World Bank’s raise in lending to Africa.

"The increase really reflects two things; it reflects very strong commitment the World Bank Group and its management to African development. And the fact that the needs in Africa today to accelerate growth and to reach the MDG’s (Millennium Development Goals) are quite simply enormous, and needs as much supports as international community can put together. Very specific terms what drove our major increase in both grants and lending this year was a substantial ramped up program and infrastructure, which is probably the most significant to constraints in growth in Africa right now,” Page noted.

He outlined the significant impact the World’s Bank increase would have on various countries’ economies.

“Well the effect is considerable in the sense that the bank’s projects and programs are generally among the top two bi-lateral and multi-lateral development partners that most countries in Africa face. But if you consider that acting essentially on the work that has been done in the commission for Africa report, the G8 commitment was to double aid to the doubling of development assistance to Africa between now and 2010. The bank share today is that it doesn’t represent more than about a fifth. And quite clearly, what we would need is a significant increase from others if we are going to make a really substantial impact on growth and poverty reduction in Africa,” he said.

Page said the World Bank’s lending increase to Africa would be felt particularly in areas such as infrastructural development.

"I think the big challenge is we are half way through the effort to reach the MDG’s, and Africa remains one part of the developing world in which that challenge is the greatest. At the same time, in the past 10 years we’ve started to see growth begin to pick up in Africa, and if you like, the perverse effect is that infrastructural systems -- power, telecommunications, rods, ports -- are now emerging as constraints to further growth, because in a way, prosperity has begun to show the inadequacy of Africa’s infrastructural base. So for the international community, a real challenge is to balance these two aspects of growth and development in Africa,” Page pointed out.