New York Times
World Bank Cites Itself in Study of Africa's Bleak Performance 

          June 1, 2000

          World Bank Cites Itself in Study of Africa's Bleak Performance
          By JOSEPH KAHN
          ASHINGTON, May 31 -- Devastated by war, corruption and disease, people 
          in sub-Saharan Africa live less well today than they did in the 
          1960's, and aid donors have to share the blame, the World Bank said in 
          a comprehensive study issued today. 
          The report, prepared jointly with the United Nations and African 
          development institutions, said Ghana, Mozambique and Uganda were among 
          a handful of African nations that have piloted a way out of extreme 
          poverty. But it says that with AIDS, malaria and civil strife rising, 
          conditions in the region as a whole are worsening. 
          The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the two leading 
          international lending agencies, have come under intense scrutiny over 
          their multibillion-dollar African aid programs. Protesters who ran 
          noisy demonstrations in Washington at the spring meetings of the bank 
          and the fund said the two institutions had made Africa poorer through 
          failed policies, a position that the bank's analysis partly 
          The 280-page report acknowledges that the heavy flow of aid in recent 
          decades did relatively little to ignite sustained economic growth, but 
          the study adds that the World Bank has reinvented how it manages aid. 
          "The temptation is to retreat into pessimism," the bank's vice 
          president for Africa, Callisto E. Madavo, said. "But I think if you 
          look at what we have been doing recently, you can see that we're 
          really on the right track." 
          Sub-Saharan Africa is the only major region that moved backward in the 
          later decades of 20th century, says the report, which catalogs the 
          many woes while prescribing some remedies. 
          In the early 1960's, African nations were widely considered more 
          advanced than East Asian nations. But between that time and the end of 
          the 90's, Africa retreated in real economic terms, while East Asia's 
          economic output increased fourfold. 
          Today, sub-Saharan Africa's 48 nations have a collective economic 
          output that does not much surpass that of Belgium. Poland alone has 
          more roads. Africa's share of world trade has steadily declined to 
          less than 2 percent. 
          Africa depends more on foreign aid today than ever, the reports says. 
          Loans and grants from rich nations account for 10 percent of total 
          economic activity, and a heavy debt burden constrains the ability of 
          governments to put their fiscal houses in order. 
          Infectious diseases like malaria and AIDS take more of a toll now than 
          at any time since the early part of the 20th century. Africa accounts 
          for 70 percent of the AIDS cases reported around the world. Even if 
          progress against the disease is made, experts expect AIDS to reduce 
          the average African life expectancy by 20 years, erasing all the gains 
          since World War II. 
          Endemic corruption and war, including the conflicts in Ethiopia as 
          well as western and central Africa, are the main causes of the bleak 
          performance, the report says. But the World Bank accepts some blame. 
          The report says the bank and its sister agencies have wasted billions 
          on ill-conceived projects. Even when projects were carefully managed, 
          they sometimes competed with national governments, drawing talented 
          bureaucrats and leaving nations "project rich and cash poor," it says. 

          The bank calls on rich countries to open their markets to imports of 
          African goods. Wealthy nations collectively spend $300 billion to 
          subsidize and protect their own farmers against foreign competition, 
          the report says, a figure that is as large Africa's total economic 

     --- from list [EMAIL PROTECTED] ---

Reply via email to