Professor is World Bank consultant

An East Carolina University professor has completed a lengthy project designed to enhance policy decisions and improve the way African nations conduct economic development programs.

Dr. Mulatu Wubneh, a planning and development professor in the School of Industry and Technology, spent over 18 months as a program officer for the African Capacity Building Foundation. The foundation is an off-shoot of the World Bank, the United Nations Development Project and the African Development Bank.

“Over the years, African countries have borrowed millions of dollars from the World Bank and other organizations for improvement programs, but their success has been very poor,” said Wubneh.

He said one of the problems is that African nations do not have the skilled people to take over the development projects and carry them forward.

The World Bank’s African Capacity Building Foundation was developed in 1992 to address these problems and from January 1996 to August 1997 Wubneh was part of the foundation’s seven-member team of policy analysts and advisers that were picked to help find solutions.

The team, based in Harare, Zimbabwe, worked with government and education officials in 20 countries. Wubneh was responsible for Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and Uganda.

The emphasis of the team members has been on the development of skilled professionals in government ministries and institutions. In order to do this, the team members advised “policy units” that were established at high-level governmental offices such as the ministries of finance and planning in the 20 countries.

The policy units conducted studies and recommended plans and policy changes.

“The belief today is that if the African countries really want to improve their economies, they must start building their internal or indigenous capacity,” said Wubneh.

He said the African Capacity Building Foundation had set aside several million dollars to fund proposals that increase professional skills. About $10 million will be used for improvements in the four nations that he advised. The money supports such things as training programs, forums and the development of regional university courses.

The foundation’s objective is to serve a total of 47 countries in Africa. Other countries will be phased in gradually.

Wubneh, a native of Ethiopia, has an extensive background in African affairs and planning. He participated in a related World Bank project to develop policy analysts in his home country in 1994 and a study of regional planning in Ethiopia for the United Nations Development Program in 1990.