World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim will Côte d’Ivoire and South Africa from 4-6 September in his first official visit outside the U.S. since taking up his new position in July 2012, according to a statement received in Abidjan on Monday.
Dr Kim will meet with national leaders, government ministers, women leaders and young people, along with business representatives, to discuss how the World Bank Group can better support African countries achieve higher economic growth, significantly reduce poverty, and create more jobs and opportunity for the people of the continent, the statement said.
“Reducing poverty and creating opportunity for people to succeed are vital to the World Bank Group’s mission and I plan to continue to strengthen our work towards these goals,” he was quoted as saying.
“For this reason I chose Africa for my first official visit as World Bank Group President, recognizing 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,” said Dr. Kim.
“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,” he added.
The statement said Dr. 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 neighboring countries, making it is easier for Africa to trade with the rest of the world than with itself.
Joining President Kim will be Makhtar Diop, the World Bank’s Vice President for Africa.
In Côte d’Ivoire Dr Kim will meet with President Alassane Ouattara and senior cabinet members to discuss the next phase of the country’s development and growth.
Dr. Kim will also meet with women leaders to discuss the importance of women to the country’s efforts to create jobs, open more businesses, and achieve lasting reconciliation and development in the former war-torn country.
The Bank Group President will meet unemployed young people, including former soldiers, who are learning new job skills in a World Bank-financed training program. Côte d’Ivoire has as many as four million young people who are jobless.
“Côte d’Ivoire’s efforts at peace and reconciliation are important elements for laying the foundation for sustainable development for itself and neighboring countries. I look forward to learning more about how the World Bank can better help fragile and post conflict states transition to stability and development,” said Dr. Kim said.
Dr. Kim will also see first-hand the emerging dynamism of African private sector in a visit to an industrial park for small and medium-sized agri-businesses.
Côte d’Ivoire is boosting food production in a region increasingly challenged by hunger and high food prices. Agriculture has broad development impact and plays an essential role in reducing poverty and hunger, while creating jobs and private investment.
In South Africa Dr. Kim will meet with President Jacob Zuma, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, and cabinet members 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 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 G-20 and other global forums. It is also an important driver for trade and investment,” said Dr. Kim.
“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.”