19.04.2005 Business & Finance

EC, World Bank agree to intensify partnership to support Africa

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Accra, April 19, GNA - The European Commission (EC) and the World Bank have agreed to an intensified partnership to support Africa's push to accelerate economic growth and make faster progress toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The EC and World Bank said they would work more closely to support African countries' development priorities, particularly in the critical areas of infrastructure development, trade and regional integration, according to a statement from the World Bank.

The statement said representatives from the two institutions also stressed that improved governance and strengthened capacity would be crucial to the successful outcomes in each of these areas. The EC and World Bank are the two largest sources of development aid to Sub-Saharan Africa. The potential benefits to Africa that would accrue from the strengthened coordination and collaboration between the EC and the Bank would be very considerable.

The statement said the agreement stemmed from a meeting of Mr Louis Michel, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid and Mr Gobind Nankani, Vice President for the Africa Region at the World Bank.

It said the discussion, taking place within the IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings, built on a strong working partnership between the two institutions, and followed consultations in January laying the groundwork for enhanced collaboration in Africa.

The discussions took place against a backdrop of increased attention to the development challenge presented by Africa. The statement said both the EC and the World Bank were in the process of formulating strategies for investing additional resources in Africa's development.

"Beyond these efforts, there has been a succession of analytical reports centred on Africa's development needs and opportunities for accelerated growth and sustained poverty reduction."

The statement said recent reports by Jeffrey Sachs and the World Bank had underscored the urgency of mobilizing new support for meeting the Millennium Development Goals, particularly in Africa.

The Commission for Africa has called for significantly increased development assistance for the Region, making specific funding recommendations to be taken up by the G-8 industrialized nations at its summit this summer.

"Together we represent a critical mass, which can make a real difference for Africans in daily lives," said Mr Michel. "We need more resources, rapidly mobilized and coordinated more effectively -the partnership with the World Bank moves this agenda forward.

"As Africa's international partners scale up development programs, it will be crucial that we retain our focus on country-owned, country-specific strategies for shared growth," said Nankani. The statement said officials from the EC and World Bank plan to meet in Brussels next month to develop specific modalities for collaboration in the key sectors. Officials would identify programmes that lend themselves to innovative support mechanisms drawing on the distinct strengths of the two institutions.

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