The World Bank in Africa

by Developed Africa 1. August 2013 09:00

Following our post earlier this week on the former President of the World Bank, another post involving the World Bank in a whole different issue.

An article in the New York Times earlier this month is of significant interest to those concerned with African development.

The article covers three main issues. Firstly, that the World Bank has been increasingly seen to have less of a role than direct investors as shown by the statistics:

World Bank spending was just $5.6 billion in 2011, versus over $46 billion in foreign direct investment."

It is clear that despite the fact that Africa is recognised as one of the world's countries most in need of aid, that the World Bank has declined as an instrument for development, especially in comparison to private investment .

The second issue covered is that of whether or not the Bank is still upholding its measures of good governance when dealing with African governments. It would appear not, as it pledges aid to the DRC, using the argument that governance can be improved through investment. Now, this is a belief up for debate, on one hand it is arguable that by investing you are not showing the government with bad governance that it needs to improve, and thus it will remain the same. However, by investing anyway, there is clearly an argument that once a country is more financially stable there will be seen improvements in governance.

Finally, the question of the World Bank and working itself out of a job. It is clear that the Bank needs to recognize when to stop involvement, and where the line of its jurisdiction ends. There is a debate, the article notes, on the importance of climate change and the influence international institutions should have. But as the New York Times writer argues:

While such issues are important, all organizations, including the bank, have to ration their influence. Such discipline is especially important now that many African countries may find alternative means of finance."

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