African Development, HIV/AIDS Expected To be Key Issues, Subjects of Contention at World Bank/IMF Meetings This Week
African development and the continent's HIV/AIDS epidemic are expected to be to central but controversial issues at this week's annual meeting of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C., AllAfrica.com reports. World Bank officials this week said that the bank has played a "key role" in creating a suitable climate for development in Africa through its direct financial aid, support of the New Partnership for African Development and "proactive challenge to the HIV/AIDS pandemic." IMF officials said that the fund has provided "hundreds of millions of dollars" to Africa and has established regional Technical Assistance Centers in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Abidjan, Ivory Coast. However, critics have argued that the two organizations have not done enough in Africa and that sponsored projects have produced "no concrete, visible results." Some officials at the U.S. Treasury Department said that the bank and the IMF are allocating money to projects with "few measurable results." As a result, the U.S. government, the single largest contributor to the bank, is "reportedly threatening" to withhold 20% of its contribution to the bank's International Development Association, which this year is providing $3.8 billion in long-term, interest-free loans to African nations, if accountability measures are not undertaken. The U.S. government would also like a greater provision of services given to private companies or non-governmental organizations. These concerns will be addressed as officials attending this week's meetings consider a draft version of the World Development Report for 2004, which supports a "performance-based" approach advocated by the U.S. government. Bank officials said the accountability problems are "ultimately the responsibility of governments and many other actors," and some unnamed officials said that the bank is working to ensure that governments receiving assistance are more transparent. Officials added that the bank is learning from assessments of previous mistakes (Cason, AllAfrica.com, 9/24).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.