Dr. Mahmoud Mohie El Din is the first Vice President of the World Bank. He is responsible for the 2030 Development agenda and United Nations Relations and Partnership.
Dr. Mahmoud has a strong academic track rekord. He graduated in Economics and Political Science at Cairo University, Egypt, then he obtained a diploma in Quantitative Development Economics from the University of WARWICK and a Master of Science degree ( Msc.) in Economical Social Policy Analysis. Later he gained his Ph.D in Economics from University of WARWICK.
Dr. Mahmoud started his career in Cairo University for more than 32 years now where he reached a professor of Economics and Finance. He also held the position of a board member of the Central Bank of Egypt; in addition of being the Minister of Investment and International Cooperation for more than 6 years.
In October 2010 he joined the World Bank Group as a managing director as a Managing Director, and currently he is currently an honorary professor at Durham Business School, besides being the senior vice president of the world bank.
Dr. Mahmoud created the ” Sustainability Index ( S&P / EGX ESG ) for listed companies in the Egyptian Stock Exchange “. Moreover he has an extensive list of publications.
EK: How would you describe the change that happened to the World bank since its formation?
MM: Overlapping crises, from climate change to pandemics, natural disasters to forced displacement, threaten to erase hard-earned development gains. And historic economic changes, in part from technological advancement and disruption, present risks for countries, but also opportunities if they have made the necessary investments in their people, communities, and economies to take advantage of them. The world needs partners that can help meet the challenges of today, while making the investments to prepare for the challenges of tomorrow.
There has been a great transformation in the way we do business and what we offer our client countries. By offering financing, knowledge, experience, and a long-term commitment to its country clients, the World Bank is a trusted partner for all its members to help transform economies and advance the 2030 sustainable development agenda. With a mission to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity, the World Bank supports its client countries in three priority areas: promoting sustainable, inclusive economic growth; investing more—and more effectively—in people; and building resilience to fragility, shocks, and threats to the global economy. The Bank applies this three-pronged approach across all sectors of development so that countries make the integrated investments that can best help people lift themselves out of poverty.
EK: How would you describe its culture?
MM: The comparative advantage of the World Bank comes from its powerful combination of country depth and global breadth, public and private sector instruments and relations, multisector knowledge, and the ability to mobilize and leverage financing. The World Bank’s principal institutions—the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA)—work in ever-closer coordination with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) to leverage the collective strength of the World Bank Group (WBG) for the benefit of its partner countries. The comparative advantage of the WBG comes from the powerful combination of country depth and global breadth, public and private sector instruments and relationships, multisectoral knowledge, and the ability to mobilize and leverage financing. Collaboration across IBRD, IDA, IFC, and MIGA has grown over time, and spans a range of activities at the regional, country, sector, and thematic levels.
World Bank experts are organized across teams of Global Practices, which focus on key technical areas of development, as well as Global Themes, composed of teams working to deliver on cross-cutting corporate priority areas, such as climate change, gender, fragility, infrastructure, public private partnerships, and guarantees. Collaboration across these teams allow for the development of comprehensive solutions for clients. The World Bank Group has made significant progress in aligning its budget to address development priorities, to reinforce selectivity and efficient delivery, and to maintain budget sustainability. It has done so through a combination of revenue expansion and spending containment measures that include completing an Expenditure Review that saved $400 million. The World Bank has also implemented new sustainability principles and budget indicators that allow for administrative expenses to be covered by revenues generated from operations and realigned its budget with strategic priorities. The Bank Group is committed to continued financial sustainability, strategic alignment, and efficiency.
EK: Its greatest success?
MM: Around the world, demand continues to rise for financing, expertise, and innovation. The needs are great—but the costs of failure are simply too high. Our shareholders are helping us meet that challenge with their approval of a historic $13 billion capital increase, which will strengthen the World Bank Group’s ability to reduce poverty, address the most critical challenges of our time, and help our client countries – and their people – reach their highest aspirations. In 2018, the World Bank Group committed nearly $67 billion in financing, investments, and guarantees.
In our work around the world, we’re facing overlapping crises such as climate change, conflict, pandemics, natural disasters, and forced displacement. We are simultaneously helping our client countries address immediate crises, build resilience against challenges on the horizon, and make enduring investments to prepare for an uncertain future. We work to achieve our twin goals: to end extreme poverty by 2030, and to boost shared prosperity among the poorest 40 percent around the world. Across the World Bank Group, we are harnessing new technologies and developing financial innovations to drive progress on the three parts of our strategy to get there: accelerate inclusive, sustainable economic growth; build resilience to shocks and threats; and help our client countries invest in their people.
EK: How does the World Bank Group work to achieve its twin goals?
MM: First, to accelerate inclusive, sustainable economic growth, we need a new vision for financing development—one that helps make the global market system work for everyone and the planet. In a world where achieving the Global Goals will cost trillions every year, but official development assistance is stagnant in the billions, we cannot end poverty without a fundamentally different approach. With the adoption of the Hamburg Principles in July 2017, the G-20 endorsed an approach that we call the Cascade, which will lead to our goal of Maximizing Finance for Development. The World Bank, IFC, and MIGA are working more closely together to create markets and bring private sector solutions in sectors such as infrastructure, agriculture, telecommunications, renewable energy, and affordable housing.
Second, to build resilience to shocks and threats—even as we continue developing climate-smart infrastructure and improving response systems—we need innovative financial tools to help poor countries do what wealthy ones have long done: share the risks of crises with global capital markets. This spring, we saw the first impact of the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF) with a rapid grant to support the Ebola response surge in the Democratic Republic of Congo. With this facility—and a similar one we are developing to improve responses to and prevent famine—we are finding new ways to help the poorest countries share risks with financial markets, helping break the cycle of panic and neglect that often occurs with crises.
Third, to prepare for a future where innovations will only accelerate, we must find new ways to help countries invest more – and more effectively – in their people. The jobs of the future will require specific, complex skills, and human capital will become an increasingly valuable resource. With the Human Capital Project, which we launched this year, we are developing a rigorous and detailed measure of human capital in each country. At the Annual Meetings in Indonesia in October 2018, we unveiled the Human Capital Index, which ranks countries according to how well they are investing in the human capital of the next generation. The ranking puts the issue squarely in front of heads of state and finance ministers so they can accelerate investments in their people and prepare for the economy of the future.
EK: How is the World Bank Group supporting client countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals?
MM: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted in 2015, was a watershed moment in development and diplomacy. Its declaration to protect people and our planet — and to leave no one behind — brought together nearly every nation on earth to endorse its 17 ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be achieved by 2030. In July 2015, many of these same stakeholders met in Addis Ababa at the third Financing for Development Conference to discuss how this agenda would be sustainably financed. The World Bank Group participated in the formulation of these global agendas for sustainable development and financing and is already deeply engaged in helping to achieve them.
The SDGs are aligned with the World Bank Group’s twin goals to end extreme poverty and to build shared prosperity in a sustainable manner. Our country-led processes with our clients have shown us that countries have a strong desire to achieve the objectives of the 2030 Agenda, and as a result, our support for this work continues to grow. This work is not new to the World Bank Group; it was already part of our DNA as a development institution. Yet the establishment of the global goals has energized our efforts to work with our partners to achieve these ambitious targets. We believe that, working together, we can create a world that is more prosperous, secure, and just. The World Bank Group is working to achieve not only individual SDGs, but also the broader agenda for implementation, including finance and data.
EK: What are doing to meet the global targets?
- We engage with our country partners to help protect the poor and vulnerable, ensure inclusive and accountable service delivery, and improve resilience to economic, environmental, and humanitarian shocks.
- We work to strengthen the private sector, so that it can create jobs and opportunities.
- We promote regional cooperation on shared public goods and enable investments in critical infrastructure.
- And we work with partners to provide assistance in education, health, nutrition, water & sanitation, energy, transport, technology, gender equality, the environment, climate change, and many other sectors.
Of course, to meet aggregated global targets, country-level results must be combined with the efforts of other nations. There are a number of daunting challenges to this global agenda — challenges which transcend borders, requiring international cooperation at many levels to address them — including climate change, pandemics, economic shocks, violence and fragility, inequality, lightning-fast changes in technology which disrupt markets, and polarization of our political and social institutions. To overcome these challenges, we need to work in partnership with multilateral organizations, governments, the private sector, civil society, foundations, and other stakeholders at the global, local, and sub-national levels. As a development finance institution, the World Bank Group will continue to play a key role in leveraging and mobilizing investments in both physical and human capital — with the help of the private sector — to spur inclusive and sustainable growth, create good jobs, and improve the quality of people’s lives.
Based on our experience in working with partners such as the United Nations to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, we learned there are two other factors critical to success: the availability of quality data (including monitoring and evaluation); and evidence-based implementation which grows from a shared commitment with country partners, and which leverages multi-stakeholder partnerships to deliver results.
EK: Africa has always been a forgotten destination, why are all the eyes on it now?
MM: Africa has never been forgotten by the World Bank Group and as region it has been our biggest recipient of our International Development Association (IDA), which is the part of the World Bank that helps the world’s poorest countries. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 75 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa, and is the single largest source of donor funds for basic social services in these countries. IDA lends money on concessional terms. This means that IDA credits have a zero or very low interest charge and repayments are stretched over 30 to 38 years, including a 5- to 10-year grace period. IDA also provides grants to countries at risk of debt distress. In addition to concessional loans and grants, IDA provides significant levels of debt relief through the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI).
Let me add that 18 African countries are fragile and conflict-affected States. They have struggled, or are struggling, through war or political conflict to rebuild themselves and lift their people out of poverty. They are called fragile states, nations with poor health and education, little or no electricity, disorganized or weakened institutions, and in many cases no functioning governments. We know that political conflict is bad for development. It causes great human suffering and forces people to flee their homes and abandon their crops and livelihoods. It vandalizes communities and ruins institutions like healthcare, cutting off access to essential services and leaving workers and breadwinners without jobs and wages. It destroys roads, limiting cross-border and regional trade. And it diminishes hope and motivation, so that the millions of educated African youth who leave high school and university every year looking for jobs are left unemployed and dispirited.
The reasons people are fighting are largely economic – uneven access to natural resources such as land and water, too few jobs and persistent poverty. While conflict is bad for development, development is the answer to conflict. Therefore, the World Bank Group strategy for Africa builds on opportunities for growth and poverty reduction to support structural transformation, economic diversification, and inclusion within the new development finance framework. The region is made up of a combination of low, lower-middle, upper-middle, and high-income countries. Africa also has 13 small states, characterised by a small population, limited human capital, and a confined land area.
EK: What is the World Bank Group strategy for Africa?
MM: The Bank is responding to this diversity by providing a wide range of instruments – both traditional and innovative – tailored to the needs of the countries. Our strategy focuses on the following priority areas:
- Agricultural productivity: There is a continuing need to accelerate progress in boosting agricultural productivity and output in Africa. Supporting smallholders through investment in improved technologies, rural financial services, and better access to markets is vital. Equally important is the push to boost agribusiness investments and improve land and water management by adopting modern irrigation practices, preventing conflicts over water resources and implementing climate-smart agriculture solutions.
- Affordable and reliable energy: Increasing access to affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy is a primary objective of the Bank’s work in Africa as inadequate electricity supply remains the greatest infrastructure obstacle in Africa. Thanks to the concerted efforts of the WBG, most of the energy generation conducted in Africa is handled by the private sector, and in a clean way. Through the maximizing finance for development (MFD) approach, we have mobilized over $2 billion in private investment in Kenya and nearly a billion in Cameroon so far.
- Climate Change: Africa’s poor are likely to be hit hardest by climate change, particularly changes in temperature and rainfall patterns. Investing in climate change adaptation techniques and disaster risk management will remain top priority. To build climate resilience, countries will need help to both mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change and ensure food security. The Africa Climate Business Plan, presented at COP21, lays out a work program to help on both fronts.
- Regional integration:Regional integration in Africa remains a critical emphasis of our strategy to improve connectivity, leverage economies of scale, and get collective action by countries to address shared challenges.
- Urbanization: Integrated urban planning is at the core of our work in Africa, addressing water, sanitation, transport, housing, power and governance, that are vital to making urbanization a true driver of productivity and income growth.
- High quality human capital:Each year in Africa and for the next decade, 11 million youth will enter the job market. Young Africans must be equipped with the right skills and training. There is still a mismatch between what African students are learning and the skills employers are actually seeking. To help bridge this gap, the Bank has launched initiatives to boost science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) across the region.