World Bank Vice President Visits Afghanistan, Emphasizes Continued Commitment

Kabul: World Bank Vice President for the South Asia Region, Hartwig Schafer, today concluded a three-day visit to Afghanistan. Schafer emphasized the Bank’s continued commitment to supporting COVID-19 recovery and progress toward a more resilient and peaceful future for the country.

Schafer met with H.E. President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, Head of the High Council for National Reconciliation Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Acting Finance Minister Mohammad Khalid Payenda, members of the cabinet, and international partners.

“Afghanistan needs continued international support to recover from COVID-19, protect hard-won development gains achieved in the last two decades, and move toward a more peaceful future,” said Schafer. “The World Bank will continue to stand with Afghanistan and work with its partners to help the country achieve economic growth and self-reliance.”

Schafer participated in the annual meeting of the Steering Committee of the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) and discussed the role of the fund in supporting Afghanistan toward economic recovery and self-reliance. Schafer also reviewed with international partners the commitments made at the Afghanistan Pledging Conference in 2020 and emphasized the need to support the Afghan government to accelerate reforms, strengthen the private sector, and maintain the delivery of public services.

Afghanistan’s economy is sluggish due to COVID-19, political uncertainty, and a possible decline in international aid. Growth is expected to reach one percent in 2021 and top around three percent in 2022. The Afghan government will likely continue to rely on aid in the coming years to maintain critical public services such as health and education, support its private sector and jobs, and finance community programs for the most vulnerable population.

The World Bank Group’s program in Afghanistan is currently governed by its Country Partnership Framework for fiscal years 2017–2021. The Bank administers the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), the World Bank Group’s largest single-country multi-donor trust fund. The ARTF provides grant support to Afghanistan based on a four-year rolling partnership framework and financing program. Together, the ARTF and the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries, provide more than $1 billion a year in grants to Afghanistan. Additionally, the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation (IFC), the largest global development institution focused on private sector development, has committed a total of $54.5 million to Afghanistan. The World Bank Group’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) has provided guarantees worth $121 million for four projects in Afghanistan.