By: Kebba AF Touray
The Executive Director of the World Bank Africa Group 1 Constituency, Dr. Floribert Ngaruko, was in Banjul for a three day working visit (16-17 February 2023) to the Gambia, to familiarize himself with the institutions and projects supported by the World Bank in the country.
Dr. Ngaruko, a Burundian national, is the Executive Director for a group of twenty two African countries including The Gambia, and has been alternate Executive Director for the same Constituency at the World Bank Group from 2020 -2022.
The Office has a dual responsibility. The first is to represent the interests of these Constituency members at the Executive Board of the WBG and to liaise with the respective Governors on issues relevant to the entire constituency or a particular member of the constituency.
As such, the Office supports dialogue between the WBG and constituent countries and engages in consultation with other Executive Directors and Management to support efforts to achieve the twin goals of reducing extreme poverty, to three percent by 2030 and promoting income growth of the bottom 40 percent in a sustainable manner.
The second is the fiduciary responsibility to act in the best interests of the organization as a whole and among others, to approve the use of financial resources by all WBG entities and policies that impact the organization’s general operations and use of resources.
On his visit to The Gambia, Dr. Ngaruko paid a courtesy call to the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Seedy K.M. Keita, at his office in Banjul. During his deliberation with the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngaruko congratulated Mr. Keita on the country’s achievements in winning more support from the Bank.
Further to this, he spoke about reforms that the Bank is expected to undergo to be more responsive to global crises like the war in Ukraine and climate change disasters and their disruption to economies.
He also talked about mainstreaming Global Public Goods (GpG) into the global agenda to enhance sustainability and resilience. He noted that the challenges to tackling the myriad of issues required more resources. He ended his deliberation regarding the general implementation of the World Bank portfolio in the country as good but needs improvement.
On his part, Mr. Keita congratulated Dr. Ngaruko on his appointment as E.D. and heading a constituent of twenty two African countries.
Mr. Keita also expressed challenges faced by the country due to the Ukraine crisis and thanked the Bank for stepping in to provide support in different areas amounting to $50 million different from the ongoing projects. He added that the Bank should consider supporting the infrastructural development of the country, by reiterating that the development agenda of the government should not be left in the hands of development partners alone.
In a frank expression, Mr. Keita delved more into the theoretical aspects of development quoting the struggles and sacrifices of the Asian Tigers (China, Singapore, Malaysia, etc.) and what they went through to lift millions of people out of poverty within a span of three decades. He revealed that development is a continuous process and as such, the narratives have to change. He urged the Bank to look and listen to the voices of member countries particularly the developing ones and disenfranchise information for the benefit of member states.
In his quest to see rapid development for the country, Minister Keita urged the Bank to listen to ‘us’ to experiment with ‘our’ development agenda (the opportunities to try new things) just as the Asian Tigers did.In a deeply concerned tone, Mr. Keita expressed the difficulties faced by developing countries, saying “few countries have emerged from being a third world country to middle income countries through the Bretton Woods institution.”
Therefore, he urged these institutions to open up the space for developing countries to explore their development agenda without being limited or conditioned, while expressing optimism that the meeting ended with both parties convinced that something fruitful will come out of the franked discussions.
ED Ngaruko was expected to visit and have a talk with the Central Bank Governor, the Ministries of Tourism and Culture, Agriculture, Digital Economy, Petroleum and Energy, Environment, Gender, Children and Social Welfare and the Office of the President.
The Africa Group One (AFG1) Constituency are twenty two countries and they are: Botswana, Burundi, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.