Friday, October 26, 2007

Annual Meeting of the World Bank Concludes African Development Has Improved, and Report Calls for Investment in Agriculture to Sustain Growth

This Day: W’Bank: 25 African Countries Record Impressive Growth
The World Bank: World Bank Calls For Agricultural Renewal, Focus On Productivity Growth In Sub-Saharan Africa
Newsweek: Troubled Waters

The 2007 Annual Meetings of the World Bank and IMF’s Board of Governors were held last weekend. At the meeting, World Bank President Robert Zoellick stated there was “good news” regarding Africa, with seventeen African countries achieving average annual growth of 5.5 percent between 1995 and 2005 and another eight countries attaining 7.5 percent growth. However, the Annual Meetings also indicated that African countries will continued financial assistance from developed countries to sustain this growth. In order to attain even higher growth, Zoellick stated that African countries need “assistance to build infrastructure . . . especially energy and physical facilities that can support regional integration. They also want us to help develop local financial markets, including microfinance, that can mobilize African savings for Africans.”

Meanwhile, the World Development Report (WDR) is advocating for greater investment in African agriculture. Because Africa is a primarily agrarian society, an emphasis on investment in African agriculture may help Africa to move out of poverty. WDR believes a greater emphasis on developing a sustainable agriculture base will increase overall economic growth for Africa. The report notes that the share of official development assistance for agriculture in developing countries is only 4 percent and needs to increase. Furthermore, the report states that action is especially needed in Sub-Saharan Africa, a region that has lagged behind other regions in its agricultural productivity growth. Some of the measures to improve African agriculture include sustainable water and soil management. In connection with these goals, a Newsweek article expressed concern for the global water crisis, which is harming African countries as they try to manage depleting water resources.

Discussion Question:
Is it realistic to think with a growing African population, depleting water resources, and insufficient financial support from rich countries that Africa will be able to maintain its economic growth?

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