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Kaberuka and Finance Leaders discuss ways to fast-track emergency assistance


Addressing financial leaders from around the world, African Development Bank Group President Donald Kaberuka said Saturday that in order to build strong economies there must be cooperation. When it comes to Africa, he said, we “must aim to provide that leadership on gender, on education for every child, on small businesses [and] on finance that works for all.”

His comments were delivered to the Development Committee at the annual World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings happening this week in Washington, DC. The committee, consisting of 25 ministers of finance or development representing 188 member countries of the IMF and World Bank, tackled tough topics ranging from Ebola, climate change, the lack of money for crucial infrastructure and the need for reorganisation within the World Bank Group.

On Ebola, Kaberuka told members he believes “there is the will and the means to defeat this menace.”

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said, “Let’s pick up the pace and do whatever it takes to stop this outbreak. When your house is on fire, you don’t put a wet towel underneath the door. You send in firefighters. It’s the same with the fight against Ebola.”

So far the African Development Bank has provided $210 million to stem the spread of Ebola. Kaberuka said that money is being used for budgetary support to help governments lead the fight against Ebola in their own countries, to mobilise and pay health care workers responding to the crisis and to bolster the critical mass needed to stop the disease its tracks.

Within nine days, World Bank teams fast-tracked $105 million in emergency assistance to the hardest-hit countries, Kim said. That money was part of a $400-million assistance package.

As the battle against Ebola is being waged, both Kim and Kaberuka told members that planning to counter the next contagion is crucial. Kaberuka stressed that the international community must learn from this Ebola crisis so that whatever comes next can be effectively managed in a timely way. Kim talked about an agreement between the IMF, United Nations and G20 leaders to set up a “pandemic emergency facility,” which would create pre-packaged agreements to ensure the immediate release of funds to support response efforts.

Regarding climate change, Kim told the group that, “Yesterday, we brought key members of this group together to talk about next steps. This included investors, Fortune 500 CEOs and government officials.”

By creating a world where countries and investors will feel “the true cost of using fossil fuels,” Kim said, “countries are now thinking about the policy implications of carbon pricing.”

Kaberuka commended Kim and his team for excellent work creating strong partnerships between international financial institutions on everything from health to poverty reduction to economic empowerment and more. It is exactly the kind of cooperation Kaberuka said would help weaker nations transition from poverty to economic growth.

For example he said, “60% of the population of Ethiopia was classified as absolute poor 20 years ago. That poverty level has been cut to just below 30% and declining.” He added, “If it can happen in Ethiopia, the poster child of poverty and famine in the 1970s, the 1980s, it can happen everywhere.”

Kaberuka closed his comments saying, “Inequality is the world of opulence and plenty amidst misery and deprivation where we have means.”

The World Bank/International Monetary Fund meetings conclude on Sunday.

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