World Bank President Wolfowitz To Travel to Africa To Assess Poverty Alleviation, HIV/AIDS ProgramsWorld Bank President Paul Wolfowitz on Tuesday announced plans for a one-week trip to Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Rwanda and South Africa beginning June 12 to assess how best to alleviate poverty, curb the spread of HIV and malaria, and improve overall development in Africa, AFP/Yahoo! News reports. Wolfowitz, who became head of the World Bank on June 1, said Africa is his main priority, adding that he is taking the trip "to understand from Africans themselves what might be done to move (development) along faster" (AFP/Yahoo! News, 6/7). Wolfowitz plans to tour World Bank projects in the four countries and meet with people the projects are assisting and development groups working in the region, the AP/Yahoo! News reports. He said that a "case can be made" for increased aid to the continent to fight HIV/AIDS and malaria and for other reasons, according to AP/Yahoo! News (Aversa, AP/Yahoo! News, 6/7). "[T]he terrible plagues of HIV/AIDS and malaria [in Africa are] ... a case where the argument is reasonably direct, that more money can deal with the problem," Wolfowitz said during a press conference, adding, "[F]ortunately, a lot more resources have been made available, private sector as well as public sector, but I would like to understand that a lot better. I think my impression is much further ahead on HIV/AIDS than we are on malaria, but I think there is a recognition that both need attention" (World Bank press briefing transcript, 6/7).
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Wolfowitz, who will travel to London for a meeting with the Group of Seven finance ministers later this week before traveling to Africa, said he is pleased that British Prime Minister Tony Blair has made Africa a focus of the Group of Eight industrialized nations' meeting in Gleneagles, Scotland, next month (AP/Yahoo! News, 6/7). Wolfowitz on Tuesday said, "I think it's ... the report of the Commission for Africa that Prime Minister Blair commissioned that emphasizes that development in Africa has got to be a holistic process and that it does require these other pieces," adding, "I think development assistance is important, but by itself it's not going to do the job" (World Bank press briefing transcript, 6/7). The World Bank currently has 334 projects and has committed $16.6 billion in Africa, Reuters AlertNet reports (Wroughton, Reuters AlertNet, 6/8).