Paper presented at the 23rd Annual Southern African Transport Conference 12 - 15 July 2004 "Getting recognition for the importance of transport", CSIR International Convention Centre, Pretoria, South Africa. The main theme of my paper and presentation is the role of infrastructure in enabling growth
in, and the World Bank's support for infrastructure in developing countries which I prefer to call Underpowered Economies. Underpowered Economies is a much nicer and better
reflection of the economies we are trying to improve.
But first, let me take a few minutes to offer a little background on the World Bank, and the
challenges that we are trying to address. The World Bank's mission has changed considerably
since our inception 60 years ago. We were initially set up to assist with post-war
reconstruction of Europe indeed, our very first loan went to France. We have since evolved
into what we are today: an organization whose single focus is to fight poverty in developing
countries across the world. The Bank is particularly engaged in helping developing countries meet the so-called Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs commit the
international community and the Bank to a set of specific goals, to be achieved by 2015. They
aim, for example, to reduce extreme poverty by half; ensure universal primary education;
reduce child mortality; combat the spread of HIV/AIDS and malaria; and increase access to
safe drinking water.
Obviously, this is no small feat - as the daunting facts clearly show. We live today in a world of 6 billion people, of which 5 billion live in developing countries. Some 2.8 billion people, nearly half of the world's population, survive on less than $2 a day. In the coming years, the world's population will increase by 2 billion people - nearly all of whom will be born in developing countries. Add to this the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, where life expectancy has dropped from 65 to only 47 years, and more than 12 million children are orphaned. These are only a few figures to demonstrate that the development
challenge of reducing poverty and meeting the MDGs is simply tremendous.
This paper was transferred from the original CD ROM created for this conference. The material on the CD ROM was published using Adobe Acrobat technology. The original CD ROM was produced by Document Transformation Technologies Postal Address: PO Box 560 Irene 0062 South Africa. Tel.: +27 12 667 2074 Fax: +27 12 667 2766 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org URL: http://www.doctech.co.za