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11 February 2009 – “We call on rich countries to keep Africa in mind as they design programmes to help their economies weather the financial crisis,” was the message from the World Bank’s Vice-President for the Africa Region, Obiageli Ezekwesili, during a press conference at the African Union Summit recently.  Saying that an ‘insular’ domestic response to the crisis was not the ideal way forward, she reiterated World Bank President, Robert Zoellick’s call that donor countries devout 0.7% of their stimulus packages to a Vulnerability Fund for Africa.

In addition to averting growing unemployment, the Fund would also support investment in infrastructure projects which can be used to encourage economic growth.

African governments could save half of the US$40 billion annual financing gap for infrastructure projects just be improving efficiency in the public service sectors.

Contagion from the US subprime mortgage crisis poses a real threat to gains made by Africa over the last decade, which have seen growth rates of between 5.9 and 8.1%.  According to a press release from the World Bank “Ensuring that Africa also benefits from initiatives to stimulate economies in the North would help restore that growth and return Africa and the world to a path of prosperity.”