The International Development Association (IDA), the arm of the World Bank that provides development financing, has revealed that over the last two fiscal years it has committed more than $45 billion to development lending purposes worldwide, with nearly 30 percent of these allocations going to Africa. The IDA is on track to deliver $45 billion to Africa by the end of the three-year IDA18 cycle, which concludes in June 2020.
According to a recent research paper, IDA commitments in countries in the Sahel reached $3.7 billion in the first two years of IDA18, more than double compared to the same period of IDA17 ($1.8 billion).
“In West Africa, agriculture is a pivotal sector, accounting for 35 percent of the region’s GDP and 60 percent of the active labour force. West African value chains, however, significantly lag those in other parts of Africa. Governments and the private sector need to collaborate in connecting farmers and food producers to better market opportunities, creating vibrant and competitive agricultural value chains, including production, processing, and distribution which are key pathways to creating jobs and improving incomes,” the research paper states.
The paper also pointed out that access to transport is critical for Africa’s social and economic transformation, but on the ground about 450 million Africans, more than 70 percent of the total rural population, are unconnected because of a lack of transport infrastructure and systems.
“Between 24 to 58 percent of firms across major cities in West Africa and the Sahel say transport is a severe obstacle to their business. Improved urban and regional connectivity and enhanced access to efficient, climate-friendly, and safe transport services would create opportunities for people to access education, jobs, and services and for firms to access markets,” the paper states.
Sub-Saharan Africa, according to the paper, is also home to the world’s youngest population and is ready for a digital transformation that could change the trajectory of the continent.
“A rapid transition to the digital economy can boost productivity, delivering jobs for an increasingly technology sharp population. For example, the continent has the highest percentage of people using mobile money, breaking traditional barriers to financial inclusion and creating opportunities for entrepreneurship.
“However, countries in West Africa and the Sahel lag in digital infrastructure. This is why investments like the World Bank Group’s commitment to the Digital Economy for Africa initiative, which is working to ensure that every woman, man, business, and government is digitally enabled by 2030, are important,” reads the paper.