The World Bank Group strategy for Africa builds on opportunities for growth and poverty reduction to support structural transformation, economic diversification, and inclusion within the new development finance framework. 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.
The strategy focuses on the following priority areas:
Agricultural productivity: There is a continuing need to accelerate progress in boosting agricultural productivity and output in Africa. Supporting smallholders through investment in improved technologies, rural financial services, and better access to markets is vital. Equally important is the push to boost agribusiness investments and improve land and water management by adopting modern irrigation practices, preventing conflicts over water resources and implementing climate-smart agriculture solutions.
Affordable and reliable energy: Increasing access to affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy is a primary objective of the Bank’s work in Africa as inadequate electricity supply remains the greatest infrastructure obstacle in Africa. 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.
Climate Change: Africa’s poor are likely to be hit hardest by climate change, particularly changes in temperature and rainfall patterns. Investing in climate change adaptation techniques and disaster risk management will remain top priority. To build climate resilience, countries will need help to both mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change and ensure food security. The Africa Climate Business Plan, presented at COP21, lays out a work program to help on both fronts.
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. The World Bank Group is stepping up its support for regional integration (current commitment of $10 billion) by adding another $7-8 billion in new financial commitments during IDA18.
Urbanization: Integrated urban planning is at the core of our work in Africa, addressing water, sanitation, transport, housing, power and governance, that are vital to making urbanization a true driver of productivity and income growth.
High quality human capital: Each year in Africa and for the next decade, 11 million youth will enter the job market. Young Africans must be equipped with the right skills and training. There is still a mismatch between what African students are learning and the skills employers are actually seeking. To help bridge this gap, the Bank has launched initiatives to boost science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) across the region.
Knowledge: Knowledge is essential to our effort to improve development outcomes and make aid more effective. Country Economic Updates, produced in consultation with clients 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 the management of dry lands, addressing the challenges of the Sahel, improving development outcomes in the Horn of Africa, and tapping the opportunities in land reform, urbanization, and demography are also underway.