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What’s Happening in Africa?

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A monthly round-up of World Bank events, reports, and launches in the Africa region.
What do actor Jeffery Wright, President Jim Y. Kim, and President Ernest Bai Koromo of Sierra Leone all have in common? Before this month, your guess would’ve been just as good as mine, but the three clued me in when they showed up to the same event to share a common interest:

The Bank observed the annual Ronald Brown African Affairs Series by hosting a town hall meeting on Africa with the theme, “Harnessing the Capacity of the African Diaspora in Building Africa.” U.S. government officials were well on board, pitching the reciprocal benefits of involving the African Diaspora in the growth of the continent. Father of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), Mike Williams, was especially vocal about the U.S. extending its partnership with Africa in both the private and public sector. President Kim and Vice President Makhtar Diop remarked on the Diasporas current involvement in the growth of Africa via video. Speakers varied from President Ernest Bai Koromo of Sierra Leone to actor Jeffery Wright, both of who roused up a lot of attention from our online audience.

Diop hopped three continents and kicked this September off at the EU-hosted New Deal Conference on Somalia, in Brussels. He and delegates from other international organizations applauded the country’s economic revival and discussed how it could keep the momentum. The international community even went beyond well-wishing and pledged $2.4 billion through 2016 towards Somalia’s development. A very optimistic Diop reflects on the trip in this blog.

Another big pledge ensued as Diop traveled to Mali to attend the inauguration of the country’s newly elected President H.E. Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. He then signed a zero-interest $50-million development policy operation on behalf of the Bank.

This month also marked the pilot launch for the Africa Fellowship Program. The #wbfellows program calls for Ph.D. students in the African Diaspora, aged 32 and below, to apply for a chance to spend six months at World Bank headquarters, getting hands-on experience. The program places a special focus on the recruitment of female candidates, as it aims to expand the network and diversity of young African professionals working at the Bank.
World Bank Group Fellowship Program for Ph.D. Students of African Descent

The Zambia office held a consultative seminar on the role of informal cross border trade as a key for the country’s economic growth. The report highlighted Zambia’s geographic advantage and shed light on gender and logistic challenges. Bank staffers and clients weren’t the only ones in attendance, as the workshop drew in attention from Zambian traders, who gave their input on the trade report.

Another report that had Africa buzzing is The Global Burden of Disease: Generating Evidence, Guiding Policy, which was introduced by a webcast discussion at the Bank. The event featured Tim Evans, director of Health, Nutrition and Population and Christopher Murray director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. The report also included a Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Edition. The online conversation, tracked using the hashtag #GBD2010, generated an exposure of over one million impressions online.

For daily updates, follow the discussion on Twitter @WorldBankAfrica and on Facebook.

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