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World Bank to invest $2 bn in African small businesses

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The World Bank is investing $2 billion towards supporting businesses and international trade in Africa./AFP
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May 20, 2021 - 11:48 AM

WASHINGTON — The World Bank announced Wednesday it will invest $2 billion to support medium and small businesses in Africa and boost trade in the region as it recovers from the Covid-19 downturn.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the bank’s development arm focused on private-sector development in emerging markets, will invest $1 billion in direct financing for businesses and another $1 billion in support of international trade finance.

The combined $2 billion package is “among the IFC’s largest ever commitments to specific initiatives in Africa,” the corporation said, adding that Covid-19 “plunged the region into recession, reduced foreign direct investment flows and pushed millions more Africans into poverty.”

“Long-term recovery will depend on getting funding to the pillars of the economy that need it today,” IFC Managing Director Makhtar Diop said in a statement.

The announcement came as French President Emmanuel Macron hosted a summit in Paris that includes African leaders and global financial institutions.

Africa’s populations have been less badly hit by the pandemic than other regions, with a total of nearly 130,000 dead compared with almost 3.4 million worldwide, according to the latest AFP tally from official sources.

But the economic cost has been devastating, with the International Monetary Fund warning in late 2020 that Africa faces a shortfall of $290 billion up to 2023, undermining efforts at development.

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