02/09/2024 | Press release | Archived content
Issued by: Wale Edun, OFR, Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Nigeria, and Chair of the African Governors Forum of the World Bank and Ousmane Diagana, Vice President Western and Central Africa, The World Bank.
1. The Roundtable for Economic Transformation in West and Central Africa took place on Thursday February 8, 2024, in Abuja, Nigeria. It was co-hosted by the Government of Nigeria and the World Bank. The Roundtable aimed to provide a forum for World Bank Group Governors to discuss (i) how to make progress on ambitious priorities for development in the region, (ii) how the ongoing World Bank Group evolution could help accelerate this progress, and (iii) how Governors can engage and support an ambitious financing and policy package for IDA21.
2. The Roundtable was attended by representatives from Benin, Cabo Verde, Chad, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Mauritania, and Togo. It was co-chaired and hosted by H.E. Mr. Wale Edun, OFR, Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Nigeria and Chair of the African Governors Forum of the World Bank, and Mr. Ousmane Diagana, World Bank Regional Vice-President for Western and Central Africa. Ms. Anna Bjerde, Managing Director of Operations, the World Bank was in attendance and provided the keynote address.
B. Deliberations and Commitments
3. As African countries continue to confront multiple overlapping internal and external challenges, an economic transformation of the continent is achievable but will require creating the right conditions to turn opportunities into transformational accomplishments in key development areas. The WBG is a key partner in this endeavour and its ongoing transformation will further leverage its capacity to support the people of Western and Central Africa.
4. The roundtable discussed and reaffirmed key priorities for the region which include human capital improvement, job creation through private sector development, food security, and the need to further strengthen financial inclusion and expand safety nets. The importance of budget support to stabilize the macroeconomy and crate fiscal space for investments were highlighted, along with the need for stepped-up efforts by governments to strengthen domestic revenue generation. Participants also recognized efforts by the WBG to remain engaged during crises.
5. The roundtable stressed the critical need to invest in resilient infrastructure across the region. Accelerating electricity access, digitalization and transportation connectivity will promote growth, increase social inclusion, and consolidate fiscal stability. Participants recognized the need for strong national leadership and significant investments, primarily through mobilization of private sector financing.
6. Participants also exchanged on the benefits of financial integration. The discussion centred on the need to harmonize reforms and systems in member states. Achieving this will require sustained political commitments and investments in the capacity of regional bodies.
7. There was a consensus that West and Central African countries can realize and sustain development gains that tangibly improve the lives of their citizens through strategic approaches to sustainable growth, job creation, private sector mobilization, and economic transformation. The WBG evolution process fully aligns with this ambition, and amplifying the voice of African countries in this process will be essential to ensure accelerated progress towards addressing these priorities.
8. IDA is the largest source of development finance for countries in Africa, and offers critical support for climate adaptation, conflict prevention, and private sector mobilization. A continued strong IDA is imperative to reach regional development aspirations, and the roundtable agreed to work together through the African caucus towards a consequential IDA-21 replenishment.
9. The great significance of this Roundtable was underlined by the gathering of numerous African Finance Ministers, focusing on interconnected issues critical for sustainable development in Africa. The unity and commitment demonstrated here are indicative of a shared vision for prosperity in West and Central Africa, with participants eager to continue this dialogue and collaboration to improve the lives of the region's citizens.
10. The roundtable laid a strong foundation for the upcoming African Finance Ministers Annual Summit in Abuja. A follow up meeting will be organized among participating governments on 26 February to agree on next steps.