WASHINGTON, December 18, 2007 - The Board of Executive Directors of the World Bank Group today discussed the Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) for the fiscal years 2008-2011.
The Board agreed that, notwithstanding the continued conflict in Eastern Congo, this is an opportune time to move from a post-conflict emergency phase (Transitional Support Strategy) to a strategic, long-term approach (CAS).
The CAS is the World Bank Group's roadmap outlining the key development objectives to be pursued during the current and the next three fiscal years by three arms of the Bank: the Bank's soft lending arm (the International Development Agency, IDA), the Bank's its private sector arm (the International Finance Corporation, IFC) as well as its Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA).
DR Congo's CAS has benefited from extensive consultations and is fully aligned with the development priorities of the country as outlined in its Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) and the Bank's Africa Action Plan. It is derived from the broader Country Assistance Framework (CAF) jointly prepared with 17 other development partners. It also builds on the Transitional Support Strategy and on the recent investigations by the World Bank's Integrity Department (INT) and the Panel Inspection.
Raising the issue of insecurity in the east of the country, the Board encouraged the government to expand the authority of the state across regions and to lead efforts to end violence, notably against women and children. It urged the government to stay the course with governance and transparency reforms, and encouraged the Bank Group to step up its support for economic governance, public finance management and pro-poor sectors. It urged the IFC and MIGA to scale up their presence in the country, pointing out that DR Congo's turnaround will bring tremendous benefits to the sub-region.
World Bank support for DR Congo over the period of the CAS will be organized to support three of the five pillars of the Government's PRSP: (i) promotion of good governance and peace consolidation; (ii) achievement of sustained and shared or pro-poor economic growth; and (iii) improved implementation of poverty alleviation programs with an emphasis on three social sectors: health, education and HIV/AIDS.
"One key objective of the Country Assistance Strategy is to help the government make a significant difference in the living conditions of Congolese by ensuring that they begin to reap the peace dividend through improved access to better quality social services but also equitable access to the fruits of economic growth," said Jean-Michel Happi, the World Bank Country Manager for DR Congo, also the Bank's Task Co-Team Leader for the CAS.
The Board highlighted the importance of a deeper Bank engagement in forestry and mining, as well as regional infrastructure development and also underlined the need for Government to stay the course with governance and transparency reforms, notably with respect to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. It welcomed the intentions of the Bank Group, together with other Development Partners, to step up their financial and technical support for these efforts and agreed that the strategy should remain flexible, as in all countries undergoing such rapid transformation.
The Board welcomed the Bank's ongoing and planned joint analytical work and co-financing with other development partners in the context of the Common Country Assistance Framework, jointly developed with 17 development partners active in DRC.
The Board encouraged the IFC and MIGA to scale up their presence in DR Congo, given the country's enormous potential and the benefits of the already substantial flows of foreign direct investments (FDI) to the country, noting that DR Congo's successful turnaround will bring tremendous benefits to the sub-region.
Finally, the Bank Board welcomed the strong expression of external support to DR Congo at the Consultative Group meeting at the end of November 2007 in Paris, France. It invited the Bank to continue to facilitate donor coordination and harmonization, and urged the Government to take the lead in this process.