A pedestrian with an umbrella walks past the the World Bank Group building in Washington, D.C, in the US. Picture: 123RF/BUMBLEDEE
A pedestrian with an umbrella walks past the the World Bank Group building in Washington, D.C, in the US. Picture: 123RF/BUMBLEDEE

Maputo — The World Bank plans to boost lending to African countries to help fight poverty, the bank's new president said on Friday after touring three sub-Saharan African countries.

David Malpass, who has pledged to step up the bank's antipoverty mission, visited Madagascar, Ethiopia and Mozambique from April 29 to May 3, meeting leaders and stakeholders and visiting World Bank-funded projects.

"Africa is working at [reducing poverty] and there have been some reductions in some countries, but as a whole there is an increasing amount of the number of people that are in extreme poverty," Malpass said

"So the bank will be making more of its grants, more of its loans to Africa as a percentage and also in absolute dollars."

Malpass added that the bank's International Finance Corporation would also boost its activities on the continent.

"It's going to try to have 40% of its activities in IDA eligible countries and in fragile countries, much of it in Africa, over the next few years," he said. The International Development Association (IDA) is the World Bank's fund for the poorest countries.

Malpass said he had visited Africa because the continent was a central part of the World Bank's focus on alleviating poverty, as well as to assess the damage done by a cyclone that battered Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi in March.

The bank said on Friday that it had increased emergency support for the three affected countries to $700m.

"The key take-away is that the economic challenges [in Africa] are really big, but the countries themselves are trying to work with those challenges and the World Bank is having programmes so that can help with that process," Malpass said at the end of his sub-Saharan Africa tour. 

Reuters