News Release No. 2008/197/AFR
World Bank Group President Visits Mauritania Welcomes Successful Democratic Transition and Reaffirms Commitment to Support the Country’s Growth Agenda
NOUAKCHOTT, January 28, 2008 — World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick signed two agreements with the Mauritanian Government during a two-day visit, underscoring the Bank’s commitment to providing a more tailored level of support to the country’s development priorities.
“This is my first visit to Mauritania, and I look forward to learning more about the challenges facing the country and how the World Bank Group can best support its development agenda,” said Mr. Zoellick “Mauritania has taken significant steps over the last two years in laying the foundation for overcoming poverty and increasing development in the country. The democratic election process and governance reforms begun in 2007 are encouraging. The World Bank Group congratulates the government on the effort and is ready to continue supporting Mauritania in its political and economic transition.”
Building on the country’s changing development needs, the first Memorandum of Understanding outlines plans to provide Mauritania with a broader mix of lending instruments and advisory services across the World Bank Group’s different agencies —including the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) — that can better support its current needs. The second represents a partnership agreement to integrate Mauritania in the Private Sector Liaison Officer program, which works to foster trade and investment.
During his visit, Mr. Zoellick met with President Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi, Prime Minister Zeine Ould Zeidane, and other key government officials. Mr. Zoellick praised the role Mauritania is playing as a cultural, economic, and geographic bridge in the region and more generally between Sub-Saharan Africa and the Arab world. Mr. Zoellick also met with Members of Parliament on development priorities, the democratic transition process, and on achieving sound, transparent, and accountable governance processes for public resource management.
Mr. Zoellick visited the port of Nouakchott and had roundtable discussions with port operators, and national and international business representatives from a variety of industries highlighting opportunities and challenges for creating a better investment climate in the country.
Visiting the urban slum of El Mina and the rural community of Tawfik, Mr.
Zoellick had an opportunity to see that although Mauritania is moving towards middle-income status, large pockets of poverty remain in rural areas due to rapid urbanization. The World Bank Group is working with local government to implement a Social Development Fund that will support participatory decision making, local capacity building, and community control of resources.