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African Leaders Pull Rank on World Bank, Demand Manufacturing and Infrastructure

The World Bank came under sharp criticism by African heads of state during the International Development Association (IDA) summit April 29 in Nairobi, Kenya. The announced focus was on favorable lending terms and strategies to bolster sustainable development and promote foreign investment. While these are themes that the World Bank seems to think sound positive, some African leaders thought otherwise.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, in particular, accused the World Bank of prioritizing loans for “seminars” instead of helping poor African countries achieve real economic development. He called out the fraud of the western approach: “Borrowing for what? Capacity building. Imagine! Seminars, they call you in a hotel, you eat chapati, mandazi, they say that is capacity building…. It should be on the ground, not just in seminars,” he was quoted by Sputnik as saying.

Then he put the demand to the World Bank: “So if you are serious, I need to hear about the low- cost funding for manufacturing, not for stories … for manufacturing. The main reason there is no growth in Africa is that the growth factors are neither funded nor understood; those who want to help Africa should fund our transport systems, electricity, raw material processing, and import substitution.

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