Published on Voices

March 28, 2022: My travel to Senegal and Morocco

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Following my recent travels, I wanted to give you a short summary of my trip to Senegal and Morocco last week.

I was glad to participate in the opening of the World Water Forum in Dakar, and held meetings and engagements in both countries focused on global fragility, water security, energy sector transition, digitalization, fintech, education, and more.



It was good to participate in the opening of the 9th World Water Forum, held for the first time in Sub-Saharan Africa. Hosted by President Macky Sall of Senegal, the event also included the Presidents of Mauritania, Ethiopia, Republic of Congo, and Guinea Bissau, as well as many other officials and delegates from around the world. In my recent op-ed – co-authored with President Sall – and my remarks in Dakar, I highlighted the ongoing water crisis and the importance of water security and cross-border collaboration on water for development and peace. The World Bank is working hard to better water sector outcomes in Senegal and beyond.

On the sidelines of the Water Forum, I had a bilateral meeting with President Mohamed Cheikh El Ghazouani of Mauritania. We discussed the challenging situation in the Sahel, the increased security spending that is taking away resources from basic services and other challenges, as well as our support to the country.

To begin the second day of my trip, I visited several WBG project sites including the Dakar Rapid Bus Transit Project. It will provide reliable and affordable transport for 300,000 passengers each day, decreasing travel time and connecting people to jobs in an environmentally sustainable way.

I was also happy to visit an Internet service provider company that, supported by WBG Development Policy Loans, benefitted from Senegal’s institutional reforms.

During my roundtable with private sector and government stakeholders, including Orange, Wave, and the central bank, I was glad to discuss how fintech companies have overcome obstacles to entry and achieved huge progress in facilitating access to digital payment platforms for a large share of Senegalese. We also discussed how to overcome technical challenges - for example, two ID systems in the country, which leads to exclusion and holding back progress on digitalization.


My visit to Senegal concluded with a bilateral meeting with President Macky Sall and a joint press conference. We discussed the negative impacts of the war in Ukraine on energy, fertilizer food prices, and Senegal’s fiscal situation. I highlighted the importance of a strong global supply increase, market access, trade barriers in Africa, and well-calibrated policy responses, especially targeted support rather than price caps and untargeted subsidies. We also spoke on energy issues, the Sahel, and the spillover effects of growing insecurity across countries.


In Rabat, I had good discussions with Head of Government Aziz Akhannouch and Minister of Economy and Finance Nadia Fettah Alaoui on the impact of the war in Ukraine on Morocco, especially on food, fertilizer and energy prices, which are being compounded by the ongoing historic drought. We discussed important reforms that can enable Morocco’s next stage of growth driven by the private sector, and I highlighted the vital importance of market access and boosting supply globally.

I was also glad for the opportunity to hold frank conversations with private sector representatives, who confirmed the need for more actions by the government to improve the human capital base, and create necessary space and regulation for real competition.

On my way from Rabat to the Casablanca airport, I visited a preschool operated by the Moroccan Foundation for Preschool (FMPS), which has created a pedagogical framework to provide quality education in the formative early years. FMPS already has 200,000 preschool pupils and is expanding fast. The model – with independent NGOs contracted and evaluated by the Ministry to educate in a systematic way – seemed highly successful and popular.

My thanks to all of our staff and partners who helped with my travels.


This post was originally published on LinkedIn. 


David Malpass

Former President, World Bank Group

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