By Omoh Gabriel, Business Editor in Washington
World Bank Vice President for Africa Dr Oby Ezekwesili yesterday in Washington at the ongoing IMF/World Bank Spring meetings, urged African Leaders to ensure that they make policies that would boost economic growth and reduce poverty in the continent.
She made the call at the on-going Spring Meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), on Friday in Washington DC while discussing “The Rise of Social Safety Nets in Africa”
She said that though African had shown relative and positive economic growth, good policies would facilitate inclusive growth in the region.
Ezekwesili said “Economic growth is critical to the continent, it is a necessary condition, you can’t wish it away we need economic growth in other to reduce poverty.
Therefore, all the economic policy choices that will lead to growth must be supported in other that countries should growth.
So policy makers will do well to keep their handle on those key policies, macroeconomic policies, structural, sectorial polices that are needed, the right investments, the choice of investment, efficient and effective investment that are pro-poor.”
According to her, there is the need to build vibrant institutions and regulatory systems that will drive the process of private sector participation as the drivers of growth. She stated that the economic growth witnessed in the continent had left some people behind adding that in a season of growth, social economic safety was an important tool of public policy.
This, she said would cushion impact and effect of the growth. While discussing on the Rise of social Safety Nets in Africa, she said that it had helped to reduce poverty in the region. Social safety nets are taking off across Africa, where more than 120 cash transfer programs have been set up in the last 10 years.
“There is growing evidence that they significantly help to reduce poverty. In Rwanda, the government has attributed rapidly falling poverty between 2006 and 2011 partly to the vision 2020 Umurenge programme of public works and cash transfer,”
Also speaking Ms Tamar Atinc, World Bank Vice President, Human Development said that social safety nets had help many countries in Africa and therefore should be supported more to ensure inclusive growth. She said that poverty remained a major challenge in the continent which could be drastically reduced with good social Safety nets.
“Rwanda has reduced poverty from 57 per cent to 47 per cent between 2002 to 2011 through public works and cash transfer programmes. She called on policy makers to ensure that they make polices that would facilitate the sustainability of projects that geared towards inclusive growth in the region.
Also, Mr John Rwangombwa, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning of Rwanda said that poverty had been reduced in his country through the social safety nets from 34.4 per cent to 24.4 per cent recently. According to him, the extreme poor in the country were more affected adding that more youths were engaged through cash transfer programme.
He said that there was the need for political will by African Leaders to reduce poverty and create jobs. “Poverty is a big challenge in the continent, and it is the responsibility of policy makers to ensure that means are created to reduce this to the lowest bearing.