World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim Visits Côte d’Ivoire on First Official Overseas Trip
Côte d’Ivoire is entering a period of stability after more than a decade of civil strife, and one major sign is the launch of the third phase of the Azito project, the largest private sector power plant in Sub-Saharan Africa. The project is in part financed by IFC, a member of the World Bank Group.
World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim visited Côte d’Ivoire on Sept. 4 and 5 on his first foreign trip since taking office. World Bank Group supported projects such as Azito are examples of the transformational impact of a private sector-led approach to development in Sub-Saharan Africa and in nations recovering from conflict.
In Côte d’Ivoire, an important economic engine in West Africa, Kim met with President Alassane Ouattara and senior cabinet members to discuss the next phase of the country’s development and growth.
Kim also met with women leaders to discuss the importance of women to the country’s efforts to create jobs, open more businesses, and achieve lasting reconciliation and development in the former war-torn country. The Bank Group President met unemployed young people, including former soldiers, who are learning new job skills in a World Bank-financed training program. Côte d’Ivoire has as many as four million young people who are jobless.
“Côte d’Ivoire’s efforts at peace and reconciliation are important elements for laying the foundation for sustainable development for itself and neighboring countries. I look forward to learning more about how the World Bank can better help fragile and post conflict states transition to stability and development,” Kim said.
Kim also saw first-hand the emerging dynamism of African private sector in a visit to an industrial park for small and medium-sized agri-businesses. Côte d’Ivoire is boosting food production in a region increasingly challenged by hunger and high food prices. Agriculture has broad development impact and plays an essential role in reducing poverty and hunger, while creating jobs and private investment.
In October 2011, the financiers of Azito, IFC, the Commonwealth Development Corporation, the African Development Bank (ADB), the Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO), and the German investment and development company (DEG) and commercial banks renewed their support to the power plant and to modernizing electricity generation in Côte d’Ivoire by pledging an additional investment of $225 to the project. This new investment will enhance the efficiency of the existing plant by generating 50 percent more power without the use of any additional gas.
In Cote d’Ivoire, while the distribution of energy is a state monopoly, the generation of electricity is fully privatized and a number of private companies compete with the state. In 1999, the Swiss/Swedish ABB, the French Electricité de France, and the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development came together to develop and operate the largest gas-fired power station in West Africa.
Once Azito 3 is fully operational, it will produce 50% of the Côte d'Ivoire's electricity generation. The Azito project is a good example of the relevance of private sector support in economic development, responding to the growing demand in the developing world for improved and reliable infrastructure services, particularly energy.
Côte d’Ivoire, with a population of 22 million people, has the second largest economy in West Africa. The World Bank Group has currently invested approximately $1 billion in the country’s development programs.
These include a post-conflict assistance project to help young people and ex-combatants reintegrate into the national economy, along with others that improve water and sanitation, governance and public sector reform, and foster the creation of small and medium businesses (SMEs) and a more dynamic private sector.