On November 13, the Committee hosted its inaugural Congressional Staff Forum featuring the World Bank's Vice President for the Africa region, Obiageli Ezekwesili.
Dr. Ezekwesili is the World Bank's leading official on African issues and formerly held ministerial positions in Nigeria. She provided a brief overview of the Bank's role in impoverished regions of the world and discussed development successes and challenges in Africa.
Dr. Ezekwesili stated that Africa as a region, with all of its adverse conditions and conflicts, have experienced significant progress, such as the improvement in its fiscal and monetary management. Dr. Ezekwesili's additional comments included:
- Africa continues to deal with the issues surrounding state management, challenging geographic configurations and energy crisis.
- Each country in the region must be treated as unique cases with special needs, such as with issues surrounding health and education.
- The region needs a great deal of resources for infrastructure to accelerate growth and to become more competitive.
- The private sector is becoming more important to Africa - although the region needs the financial investment, it also needs the transfer of knowledge for capital.
- The World Bank is essential to the region. The region needs the World Bank to deal with issues surrounding science, education and infrastructure. The World Bank also provides its unique and knowledgeable human capital.
- The World Bank works to be a neutral institution that views and treats each country within its unique context. The World Bank addresses various global issues, such as health and education, through a holistic and multifaceted approach through its lending operations, technical operations and skilled talents provided.
- Couple of trends: 1) The telecommunication reform is happening rapidly (18 million mobile phone lines) and 2) Education and training need to be updated and keep pace with the economic acceleration and growth.
- Some other work the World Bank Group carries out is through its International Finance Corporation (IFC), which provides women in the developing countries with access to capital.
- The World Bank's work in Africa is focused on results - whatever work the World Bank carries out in Africa must be based on results. She stated, "[The World Bank] cannot be an institution that just exists. It must have an impact in the countries it aids." (Africa Action Plan booklet).
- Unlike the past, the World Bank has been focusing on these two elements:
- Result focused actions.
- Partnerships/Cooperation: cross fertilization of ideas and calls for greater cooperation between donors (Paris Agenda).