(MENAFN - The Peninsula) By Satish Kanady I The Peninsula
DOHA: The World Bank responded to strong demand from countries in the Middle East and North Africa Region (Mena) for development finance, global expertise and innovation during the financial year that ended on June 30th, 2018.
In addition to $6.3bn in new financial commitments during the past financial year, the Bank also delivered a wide range of analytical products to help Mena countries transform their economies, and lay the foundations for inclusive growth and job creation, the Bank stated.
The record commitment included $5.9bn from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which supports development in middle-income countries, and $430m from the International Development Association, the Bank's fund for the world's poorest countries.
The World Bank's knowledge services included support for the region's high-income countries, through its Reimbursable Advisory Services. The programme, which reached $55m during the past financial year, supported efforts to diversify economies and promote private sector development, while supporting human development through the reform of key public services such as education, health and social protection.
'We are committed to helping the region overcome its challenges and reach its full potential, and our investments match that commitment, said Ferid Belhaj (pictured), World Bank Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa.
'Going forward, we will focus on the region's young people, with a particular focus on developing their capacity to harness the power of new technologies and create a dynamic and innovative private sector that can become a new source of growth and jobs.
The World Bank strategy for the Middle East and North Africa aims to foster peace and stability by rebuilding trust between citizens and their governments, promoting greater regional cooperation, strengthening the capacity to cope with the impacts of instability, and supporting recovery and reconstruction wherever possible. Guided by this strategy, Bank engagement over the past financial year included $500m in support of public education reforms in Egypt, a $200m project in Morocco to link farmers with markets, a $225m project to expand public transportation for the benefit of both Syrian refugees and the communities hosting them in Lebanon, and an additional $400m for an emergency project in Iraq to rebuild infrastructure.
'We will continue to be guided by our strategy,' added Belhaj, 'while acknowledging that government budgets are under immense pressure and that the private sector has a much greater role to play in financing investments in critical infrastructure. Following our successful partnership with Egypt to attract billions of dollars in private investments in the energy sector and ending the power cuts that were affecting people and businesses, we are working with governments across the region to create the right conditions to mobilise private finance.
The World Bank currently has a portfolio totaling $17bn in the Mena region. The portfolio covers a diverse range of sectors such as agriculture, energy, education, the environment, health, social protection, trade and transportation.