World Bank to encourage technical expertise in SSA

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“We see the World Bank as providing integrated knowledge solutions. We pride ourselves in having analysts work together with academics and other knowledgeable people in the countries [to] try to bring the best knowledge on specific questions,” World Bank’s chief economist for the Africa region, Francisco Ferreira told CNBC Africa.

“We have the expertise and we’d like to combine that with the money. There are other donors, other banks and other lenders that have as much money as we do. Our comparative advantage is to integrate that with the best available, global knowledge [while] being sensitive to the local realities.”

The World Bank group recently announced that it has committed a record-breaking 15.3 billion dollars to SSA’s development in the 2014 fiscal year.

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The funds are mainly aimed at boosting energy, improving agricultural productivity and promoting higher education for development in the region.

“Africa’s needs remain very large. In 2010, a report calculated that infrastructure needs for the continent, for sub-Saharan Africa as a whole are to the tune of 93 billion dollars per year – 15 [billion dollars] is still a small amount,” Ferreira said.

“It’s not going only to infrastructure, it’s going to lots of other things. The bank is really committed to Africa – Africa is doing very well but it still needs our help and we’re committed to it, so we’re delighted to reach that figure.”

Ferreira also indicated that funding by the World Bank is broadly spread and covers almost every region on the continent.

“We’re engaged with almost the full range of 48 countries in the region, in different ways, but this money is spanning the entire continent – West Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa. It’s going to our priority areas of energy generation, agricultural development and also higher education,” he explained.

Ferreira further indicated that while the 15.3 billion dollars refers to the fiscal year that just ended, he expects that funding will continue at similar levels, if not higher, in the current year.

(READ MORE: Sub-Saharan Africa’s medium-term prospects favourable)

Makhtar Diop, World Bank vice president for the Africa region, said, “Africa is making significant progress and at the World Bank we are stepping up the momentum to innovate and think big in order to help our clients achieve their development goals.”

“We applaud the improved policies and prudent fiscal decisions many governments have made and we will continue to provide financing through loans and grants, technical expertise and to mobilise our unique convening power to leverage the resources of other development partners,” he added.