Three months after 11 African countries signed an ambitious deal to secure peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the world’s top donor and leading diplomat visit the Great Lakes region to support the agreement and push for economic development.
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will arrive on Wednesday in the DRC for a two-day tour, after which they will travel to Rwanda and finally Uganda before returning to Washington D.C. and New York, respectively. Kim and Ban will be accompanied by former Irish President Mary Robinson, appointed two months ago as the U.N. chief’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region.
The visit, according to a statement from the World Bank, “will draw attention to the plight of fragile and conflict-affected countries struggling to meet the MDGs” and underscore a joint commitment to tackle global conflict and poverty. In addition, the presence of two such high-level officials is seen as firm support for the peace deal for the DRC.
Regarding that agreement, Ban said in the statement that “commitments on paper must translate into action on the ground” and deliver a peace dividend – development, opportunity and hope for people who have suffered for too long.”
“We need to ensure that implementation of the political and security aspects of the framework agreement goes hand-in-hand with the economic development that is essential to lasting peace and stability,” added Kim.
The heads of the World Bank and the U.N. will meet with leaders of the three countries on they will visit, with a special focus on Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, where over the past ten years economic growth has skyrocketed from 1 percent in 2003 to 8.2 percent in 2013, and dramatically improved governance. Kagame wrote this week in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal that despite his country’s success stories, fast-growing African economies cannot be expected to develop like the Asian tigers, but rather at their own pace as “African lions.”
Kim and Ban hope that the peace deal will slowly bring to the Great Lakes region the stability needed for governments to deliver basic services to their citizens and pursue economic development after decades of conflict.
The World Bank has invested a combined $16.5 billion in development programs in the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda.
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