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WB to Attend African Summit to Support Agriculture

Xinhua News Agency, January 30, 2011 Adjust font size:

A World Bank (WB) delegation will attend the 16th session of the African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to support development in the continent including agriculture.

According to a WB statement released on Saturday, the delegation, led by the institution's Managing Director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, it will discuss with AU officials various aspects of a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2008 on cooperation in promoting regional integration, governance, post-conflict development, relations with the Diaspora and the anti-HIV/AIDS drive.

“We are keen to work with African governments on shared values, in particular as they relate to regional integration, governance, and accountability,” World Bank Vice President for Africa Obiageli Ezekwesili said.

“Addressing the set of challenges the continent faces, be it nutrition, peace and security, climate change or pandemics, requires concerted action and a common sense of purpose. Our goal is to see how the Bank’s strategy for Africa can fully leverage our partnership with the AU Commission and other regional bodies,” he added.

The summit to be held on Jan. 30-31 amid worries over rising food prices will also be an opportunity for the WB to help galvanize support for increased investments in Africa’s agriculture and agri-business sector.

“About 60 percent of the world's uncultivated farmland is in Africa, yet the continent receives only about five percent of global investments in agriculture. We see a tremendous window of opportunity there; one that also holds a promise for jobs, especially if we focus on agricultural value chains,” said Okonjo-Iweala.

“Africa’s rapid rebound from the global food, fuel and financial crises confirms the continent’s resilience thanks to reforms, as well as a ‘can-do’ spirit which can be applied to agriculture, raising incomes for millions of the very poorest Africans.”

The delegation will brief African leaders on the outcome of five months of consultations around the bank’s Africa strategy, to which thousands of Africans contributed. Along with other key partners in agriculture including the African Development Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Program, it will host a discussion on food security.

In addition, it will visit the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange. The Exchange has helped Ethiopia to boost agricultural exports and transit rapidly from rudimentary methods of marketing agricultural products to the kind of transparent, efficient and sophisticated platforms offered by globally-accessible modern facilities.

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