ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (Reuters) – World Bank President Jim Yong Kim on Tuesday expressed support for Ivory Coast in his first visit to the West African nation and said he was confident the country could successfully rebuild from post-election violence as long as there was lasting peace.
Jim Yong Kim meets President Ouattara
“I am here to express my strong strong support for this country, its people, and the leadership,” Kim told a joint news conference with President Alassane Ouattara.
“We need Cote Ivoire to be successful and as long as Ivorians choose peace … we are certain that Cote Ivoire will have great success in the future.”
Ouattara welcomed the World Bank’s continued backing for his country and without elaborating said he had asked Kim, who took the helm of the global development lender two months ago, to substantially increase funding to Ivory Coast. The country is plagued by high youth unemployment, increased poverty and huge infrastructure needs.
World Bank funding to the world’s biggest cocoa-growing nation is currently around $1 billion and any increase in lending would come from the Bank’s fund for the world’s 81 poorest countries, the International Development Association.
Ouattara said economic growth in Ivory Coast would likely be above eight percent this year and reach double digits by 2014. He said he hoped his country would reach emerging market status by 2020, alongside India, Brazil and South Africa.
“I have great hope for this country,” Kim told reporters. “All around me today I could see the dividends of peace and I want to congratulate everybody in this country for being committed to a peaceful path forward,” he added.
Ivory Coast has started showing signs of revival since the end of violence last year, which erupted after former President Laurent Gbagbo disputed a late 2010 election result that showed he had lost to Ouattara. Read more…