More World Bank loans and grants on the cards for Africa

Liberia’s Antoinette M. Sayeh, IDA19 Replenishment Co-Chair

The World Bank’s International Development Association lends to the poorest nations. The economist heading its 2019 replenishment process, Antoinette Sayeh, told DW about the plans to boost its budget for Africa.

The IDA touches the lives of millions in Africa, but few know much about this part of the World Bank Group that gives loans and grants worldwide. Every three years, the IDA seeks new funds from member states. Its annual replenishment process – IDA19 – is being led by Antoinette Sayeh, Liberia’s former finance minister. Sayeh spoke to DW’s Daniel Pelz about the process and the association.

DW: You’re leading the current replenishment of the IDA. How has the response from the member governments been so far?

Antoinette Sayeh: I’m happy to say that, coming out of our last set of discussions on the margins of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, we arrived at a broad consensus to target the base scenario of $80 billion (€72 billion) up to the mid-high scenario of $82 billion. We’re very hopeful that we get this $82 billion and I think the soundings we’ve had from members and donors of the replenishment suggests that we can arrive at $82 billion.

What do you need the money for?

IDA supports the poorest and most fragile countries across the world with the objective of reducing extreme poverty and increasing prosperity. We support 75 countries. Much of that poverty these days is concentrated in Subsaharan Africa. So, certainly Africa is the key focus of the replenishment. In IDA18 2019, Sub-Saharan Africa was consuming three quarters of the resources, and we expect that to be similar under IDA19. We’ll be looking to provide financing around five special themes: One is fragile countries affected by conflict and violence. Another is to build a stronger institutions-improved governance. The third is to improve gender equality. Fourth is jobs and economic transformation, given the huge need for jobs across the world and in sub-Saharan Africa in particular. And finally on climate change that has a devastating impact on some of the poorest countries.

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