World Bank chief heads for South Africa
3 September 2012
New World Bank president Jim Yong Kim heads for Côte d'Ivoire and South Africa this week on his first official visit outside the US since taking up his new position in July.
"Africa is truly taking off, and I look forward to hearing directly from governments and people on the continent on how the Bank can help drive more inclusive development throughout Africa," Kim said in a statement last week.
The head of the Washington-based global development bank will meet with national leaders, government ministers, women leaders and young people, along with business representatives in both Côte d'Ivoire and South Africa.
Africa 'home to some of the best development solutions'
Kim said he had chosen Africa for his first official visit as World Bank chief in recognition of "the priority given by the continent's governments to faster growth and less poverty.
"In the past, Africa was often defined by its problems, but today, whether it's empowering women or creating job opportunities for young people or spurring new businesses, Africa is increasingly home to some of the best development ideas and solutions."
Kim will also discuss with leaders in both countries the importance of stepped-up regional integration for Africa's future. The continent loses billions of dollars in potential trade earnings every year because of high trade barriers with neighbouring countries, making it is easier for Africa to trade with the rest of the world than with itself.
Kim's trip will kick off on Tuesday in Côte d'Ivoire, where he will meet with President Alassane Ouattara and senior cabinet ministers, women leaders, and unemployed young people, including former soldiers, who are learning new job skills in a World Bank-financed training programme.
South Africa 'a key factor of African growth'
In South Africa on Thursday, Kim will meet with President Jacob Zuma, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, and cabinet minister to discuss how the World Bank Group can support South Africa's efforts towards inclusive and sustainable growth.
He will also exchange ideas with local entrepreneurs on how the country's private sector is creating opportunities and growth.
"South Africa is a key factor of African growth and a leading voice for the African continent in the G20 and other global forums. It is also an important driver for trade and investment," Kim said.
"I look forward to discussing how we can strengthen our partnership for better development prospects, both in the country and across the continent, especially in the vital area of better regional integration."
World Bank involvement in South Africa
In April 2010, the World Bank granted South African state power company Eskom a US$3.75-billion loan to help it complete the 4 800 MW Medupi coal-fired power station, as well as to finance "some of the biggest solar and wind power plants in the developing world".
The World Bank's private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), is also involved in the country, supporting South African companies that are "going north" and "going global", as well as providing advice and financing to underserved niches of the market, technical assistance to small businesses, and supporting the development of renewable energy.
And the World Bank's Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), which provides support to foreign investors looking for opportunities in South Africa and to South African companies wanting to invest abroad, has provided support to a number of SA agribusiness and financial services over the past three years.