The World Bank Group strategy for Africa builds on opportunities for growth and poverty reduction to support structural transformation, economic diversification, resilience, and inclusion. The region is made up of a combination of low, lower-middle, upper-middle, and high-income countries. 18 countries are fragile and conflict-affected states. Africa also has 13 small states, characterized by a small population, limited human capital, and a confined land area. The Bank is responding to this diversity by providing a wide range of instruments – both traditional and innovative – tailored to the needs of the countries.
Achieving higher inclusive growth and reaping the benefits of a demographic dividend will require going beyond a business as usual approach to development for Africa. Going forward, it is imperative that the region undertakes the following four actions, concurrently: invest more and better in its people; leapfrog into the 21st century digital and high-tech economy; harness private finance and know-how to fill the infrastructure gap; and build resilience to fragility and conflict and climate change.
The strategy focuses on the following priority areas:
Empowering women to change fertility dynamics and accelerate human capital gains: The World Bank, via its new Human Capital Project (HCP) is at the forefront of helping countries strengthen their human capital. 44 countries, including 15 from Africa, have joined a first cohort of HCP countries committed to invest more and better in their people. While every country faces unique obstacles and opportunities, three widespread challenges put at risk young Africans’ survival, education, and health: (i) high fertility; (ii) fragility, conflict, and violence; and (iii) suboptimal financing. Boosting women’s empowerment is at the crux of these three challenges and our work will continue to support efforts that ensure that women are educated, healthy and able to decide when and how many children to have, helping reduce fertility and investing in the next generation. A population that is healthy, educated, and well-equipped for the future is the best way to eradicate poverty in Africa and contribute to the world’s stability and prosperity.
Accelerating Africa’s digital economy: Africa has the opportunity to harness the digital economy as a driver of growth and innovation, but if it fails to bridge the digital divide its economies risk isolation and stagnation. With digital economy investments and reforms, Africa may be able to accelerate, possibly even leapfrog the traditional growth model, and transition from an agriculture-based economy to a digital economy, leaping over intermediate steps, while building core infrastructure, systems, and competencies. The World Bank Group, through the Digital Economy for Africa (DE4A) Moonshot initiative, is helping the region catalyze digital transformation and massively scale-up efforts and resources to build the foundations of a thriving digital economy.
Climate change: Africa’s poor are likely to be hit hardest by climate change, particularly changes in temperature and rainfall patterns. In the face of increasing climate-related risks, investing in climate change adaptation and resilience mechanisms and disaster risk management will remain a top priority. The Africa Climate Business Plan, launched in 2016, has delivered significant results ahead of schedule, particularly in the areas of climate-smart agriculture, integrated watershed management, climate-smart ocean economies, climate resilience in coastal zones, social development, and renewable energy. Since its launch, the World Bank has approved a total of 176 projects for a total commitment of $17 billion of Bank financing. This is twice the Bank’s 2020 resource mobilization target of $8.5 billion set out under the ACBP when it launched.
Regional integration: Regional integration in Africa remains a critical emphasis of our strategy to improve connectivity, leverage economies of scale, and get collective action by countries to address shared challenges. There will be a greater focus on fewer and bigger operations in areas like the digital economy, promoting power trade, human capital, and sub-regional fragility hotspots. The World Bank Group will continue to scale up successful regional and country level approaches.
Maximizing finance for development: At a time when public resources are increasingly scarce, and the aspirations of African populations are rising, the World Bank Group has embraced the Maximizing Finance for Development approach to systematically leverage all sources of finance, expertise, and solutions that will help create an enabling environment for investors, particularly those in the private sector. While private participation in Africa is on the rise, with total investment in infrastructure increasing by 151% from $2.5 billion in 2014 to 6.3 billion in 2015, there is still much more scope for all actors to work together. Thanks to the concerted efforts of the WBG, most of the energy generation conducted in Africa is handled by the private sector, and in a clean way. Through the maximizing finance for development (MFD) approach, we have mobilized over $2 billion in private investment in Kenya and nearly a billion in Cameroon so far.
Boosting resilience to conflict and violence: Sub-Saharan Africa faces serious challenges related to fragility, conflict and violence (FCV) that threaten to undermine development gains. With violent conflict surging, the fight to end extreme poverty in Africa will require a stronger focus on addressing the underlying drivers of fragility in order to create opportunities for peace and shared prosperity. Through the IDA 18 Risk Mitigation Regime, we are providing more resources for countries such as Niger and Guinea to mitigate the drivers of FCV. Together with the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and global technology firms, the World Bank is developing the Famine Action Mechanism, a new initiative that harnesses technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to strengthen our ability to forecast famine risks and ensure funds are released before a crisis emerges. In countries like Somalia or the Central African Republic, we are focusing our efforts on building state capacity and legitimacy, strengthening accountability and inclusive institutions, and ultimately building the trust needed between citizens and the state for long-term peace and stability to take root.
Knowledge: Knowledge is essential to our effort to improve development outcomes and make aid more effective. Country Economic Updates, produced in consultation with member countries and other stakeholders, help promote substantive discussions around key policy issues. Analytical work on structural transformation, on macroeconomic vulnerabilities, on fragility and poverty, on improving governance, but also on more specific areas such as private investment opportunities in Africa, women’s entrepreneurship, stunting, learning and access to education, and urbanization have also been recently completed.
Last Updated: Apr 11, 2019