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Private Sector Matters for Development

India's Rural Women

Africa: The Power of the Private Sector

Africa is at the forefront of development.

It is home to both some of the greatest challenges and the greatest opportunities for all involved in the process of raising living standards, reducing poverty, and building a more sustainable and inclusive world.

This large, diverse, and fast-changing continent is one where the private sector has an especially important role to play, one that is not always fully recognized. Increasing this role—whether in creating jobs, improving infrastructure, expanding education and health care, or other essential areas—has been one of the central priorities of IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, during my six years.

We have substantially increased our commitment to Africa in this time, opening many new offices, hiring new, mainly local staff, and moving more decision-making to these local markets so we can better serve our clients. This has enabled us to increase our annual commitments from $700 million in 11 African countries six years ago to more than $3 billion in 36 countries today, supported by $189 million in advisory projects provided in collaboration with our donor partners. We are especially pleased that IFC will likely invest more than $1 billion in the infrastructure sector alone in Africa for the first time this year.

These trends have allowed us to help the private sector reach far more African lives. But much more must still be done. It can only be done in tandem with our clients, African governments, civil society, and others.

IFC will help African countries that are achieving success in private sector–led growth reach the next level and widen the benefits to more of their people. But we must also target those that are farther behind in this process, especially the many fragile and conflict-affected states. And we must never take our focus off climate change, an overarching issue with future implications for nearly every sector in Africa.

The stories in Telling Our Story: Africa provide clear evidence of the importance of well-designed private participation in building strong and inclusive African economies.

Publish Date: 5/16/12

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