IFC launches 5yr Africa Fragility Initiative for private sector development in 32 African Countries

IFC announced the launch of the Africa Fragility Initiative (AFI), a five-year program dedicated to supporting responsible private sector-led growth and job creation across 32 African countries affected by fragility and conflict.

Central to IFC’s strategy to strengthen some of Africa’s least-developed markets, the AFI brings together  the private sector with development partners to deliver advisory and investment support aimed at generating business development, identifying local market champions and improving the delivery of goods and services for potentially millions of people across the African continent.

Through the AFI, IFC and its partners will provide on-the-ground support to encourage and catalyze investment in countries where business costs are high, operational challenges are formidable, and development needs are great, including in the Sahel where a combination of instability, rapid population growth, shifting climate and food shortages have left the region in a stubborn fragility trap.

As part of the AFI, IFC and its partners will provide market intelligence, identify and work with promising local businesses to prepare them for investment, and build relationships crucial to job creation and development success.

“Africa is home to most of the world’s fragile and conflict-affected countries, many of which suffer from endemic poverty and a longstanding lack of investment,” said Sérgio Pimenta, IFC’s Regional Vice President for Africa. “The Africa Fragility Initiative is a new tool that allows IFC to work closely with our partners, share operational knowledge, mainstream conflict sensitivity and systematize responsible and context-specific investment in markets that need it the most.”

Fragility is on the rise globally and Africa is disproportionately affected, with poverty amplified by climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. IFC has committed to a significant scale-up of its engagement in FCS:  to deliver 40% of its program in International Development Association (IDA) countries and FCS, and 15–20% of its program in low-income IDA and IDA FCS, by 2030.

IFC programs, and programs across the broader World Bank Group, focus on providing tailored and specialized resources designed to achieve impact in fragile environments in line with the World Bank Group’s Strategy for Fragility, Conflict and Violence. The AFI is intended to support IFC’s FCS commitments under the WBG FCV Strategy and the 2018 Capital Increase Package.

The AFI is a $74 million program supported by multiple donors. To date, the Governments of Ireland and Norway have committed funding. The initiative builds on 13 years of expertise, knowledge, and relationships developed through the IFC-led Conflict Affected States in Africa (CASA) Initiative which ended in December 2021 after delivering investments and advisory support in 13 fragile and conflict-affected countries.

“Supporting fragile and conflict affected countries in Africa is vital now more than ever in the wake of COVID-19 and other pressing challenges,” said Vegard Pedersen, Senior Advisor, Department for Partnerships and Shared Prosperity, Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD). “We have long partnered with IFC to support the private sector in Africa and through this new initiative we expect to make a sizable impact improving lives and contributing to grow in fragile places.”

“The AFI initiative aligns closely with Ireland’s longstanding efforts to support development in African countries facing the greatest challenges to growth,” said Ruairí de Búrca, Director General, Irish Aid, in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland. “The challenges of fragility need to be addressed urgently, and we are optimistic that our partnership with IFC and others will support job creation and increased opportunity in these complex markets.”

AFI support will be delivered in five sub-regions including The Sahel & West Africa; the Horn of Africa; Central Africa & The Great Lakes; Southern Africa and North Africa.

The AFI model is designed to address the sub-regional dimension of fragility, often complicated when conflict and its effects spill across borders. The Initiative will also ensure that conflict dynamics and related mitigation activities are considered as part of IFC’s and its partners’ work on the ground.

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