At the 2013 Global Social Venture Competition held at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, two African students, Moctar Dembele and Gérard Niyondiko, won the first prize for creating an anti-malarial soap bar. They tested and developed this product at the International Institute of Water and Environmental Engineering in Burkina Faso, a small country in West Africa.
I was glad to read the announcement made by World Bank President, Dr. Jim Kim, at the start of this year’s UN General Assembly meetings, about the Bank’s projected financing support through the end of 2015 to help developing countries reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for women and children’s health. As we move toward the culmination of the MDGs in 2015 and beyond, preventing maternal and child deaths should be seen by all government delegations and their partners in the international development community as a clear yardstick to measure their commitment for creating more just and inclusive societies.
While global economic growth has been sluggish in recent years, Africa has been growing. We’ve seen a resurgence of traditional sectors such as agriculture and the extractive industries as well as promising new ones such as ICT. Not surprisingly, these booming sectors need highly skilled technicians, engineers, medical workers, agricultural scientists and researchers. Yet large numbers of African graduates remain unemployed as their skills are often not in line with industry requirements.
Getting Somalia right has huge regional and global implications and attracted $2.4 billion in support at a recent development partners meeting in Brussels.
Supporting fragile and conflict-affected countries to get back on a stable, hopeful development path is a key priority for me as Vice President for the World Bank’s Africa region. It is on my mind especially at the moment after being in Brussels several days ago to participate in the EU-hosted New Deal Conference on Somalia, and then visiting Bamako to pledge our support to Mali’s newly formed Government. As stated by the international community and many observers, the recent election of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita will open a new era of peace and reconstruction for Mali and we will be an active partner in this immense task.
The Brussels conference marks the anniversary of last year’s political transition and culminated in the endorsement of a “Compact” against which the international community pledged $2.4 billion through 2016. The conference, hosted by the EU and the Government of Somalia led by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, not only helped consolidate international political support for Somalia but also generated considerable momentum for the country’s development plans and a path to international debt relief.
- Be African or of African descent
- Be within one or two years of completing their Ph.D.
- Be enrolled in an academic institution and returning to university after the program
- Be below 32 years of age
- Have an excellent command of English (both written and verbal)
- Possess strong quantitative and analytical skills
Participation in the program may start at any time during the year. Fellows receive round-trip air travel to Washington, D.C. from their university, and remuneration during their fellowship. Throughout their Fellowship, students will be able to use their access to World Bank facilities, information and staff to enhance their doctoral research. After completing six months of the fellowship, high performers will be offered an additional six months to continue their work with the Bank.
When Mukisa joined the 62nd Makerere University graduating class in January 2012, he had already made up his mind to walk a very different path from those who graduated from the same Kampala university 30 years ago. Back then, jobs were waiting for graduates, who joined formal employment that afforded them a decent living. Today, only 20% of new entrants onto the Ugandan labor market find formal jobs, leaving the rest to self-employment and other informal activities. So Mukisa started a business in plant nurseries to tap into the demand for gardening materials for the booming construction industry in the city. He has gradually acquired the technical and entrepreneur skills for his business, but wishes for better access to capital and land, and less harassment by local authorities, to expand his business.
In January, we launched a campaign to find social media interns who could boost social media engagement and connect with young audiences in Africa. More than 30,000 Twitter users across Africa and in the Diaspora participated in the campaign – whether through original tweets or retweets. The 20 or so who ended up on the shortlist all took an online test, and we selected the two who went above and beyond: Sarah Clavel and Maleele Choongo.
In May this year, I joined World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on their historic visit to Africa’s Great Lakes region.
As we travelled this war-weary region, at every stop, whether in towns or the countryside, we saw families involved in an epic effort to keep the peace, find jobs, feed and educate their children, and make their lives more prosperous.
The results suggest strangely mixed conclusions. In certain ways, poverty trends in Nigeria over the past decade were better than has been widely reported, where a story of increasing poverty has been the consensus. And yet poverty is stubbornly high, disappointingly so given growth rates.
Three facts stand out.