New WB chief starts Africa tour in Ivory Coast

September 4, 2012
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Jim Yong Kim will meet Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara for talks and dinner on Tuesday/AFP
ABIDJAN, Sept 4 – The new president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, arrived Tuesday in Abidjan at the start of an African tour and plans to assess reconciliation in Ivory Coast, emerging from conflict, the bank said.

Kim, 52, a doctor and anthropologist of Korean-American origin, took up his functions at the beginning of July. On Tuesday evening, he will meet Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara for talks followed by a dinner.

“Reducing poverty and creating opportunity for people to succeed are vital to the World Bank Group’s mission and I plan to continue to strengthen our work towards these goals,” he said in a statement.

“For this reason I chose Africa for my first official visit as World Bank Group President, recognising the priority given by the continent’s governments to faster growth and less poverty,” Kim said.

In his talks with Ouattara, who currently heads the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Kim will review regional crises and the way the World Bank can best support their resolution, the statement said.

He will also inquire about progress on security and reconciliation in Ivory Coast, where Ouattara came to power in April 2011 after a serious political and military crisis that cost some 3,000 lives in four months after his predecessor, Laurent Gbagbo, refused to admit defeat in elections.

The World Bank group has invested about one billion dollars (793 million euros) in development programmes in the west African country.

Kim will “meet with women leaders to discuss the importance of women to the country’s efforts to create jobs, open more businesses, and achieve lasting reconciliation and development in the former war-torn country,” the bank said.

He will “meet unemployed young people, including former soldiers, who are learning new job skills in a World Bank-financed training program,” as well as visiting an industrial zone for small and medium-sized companies.

The World Bank chief will leave Abidjan on Wednesday for South Africa, where he is scheduled to meet President Jacob Zuma.

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