Asad Alam, the newly appointed World Bank Country Director for Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland last week visited Botswana.
He will lead the development and implementation of the World Bank’s country partnership strategies for the five countries.
Addressing the media on Friday, he pointed out that the bank’s presence regionally is a signal of the increasing importance African governments are attaching to improving business environments so as to catalyse economic growth, create jobs and improve human welfare.
“The bank has a window for assistance through grants of over $25 million which is globally for the invitations through proposals,” he stated. ┬á┬á
The Regional Director stated that the World Bank is taking a regional approach to improving the business climate, capitalising on nascent regional efforts to boost trade promotion initiatives, and facilitate peer-to-peer learning through communication, dialogue, and exchange. He said that the partnerships forged will help to advance business friendly reforms that are needed for growth and poverty reduction.
He revealed that the bank is behind the new Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) Morupule B plant, which is expected peak the country power connection of over 6000mgw. He added that the project, which is at an advanced stage, is also considering the environmental impact such as reducing pollution.
“I had talks with some Members of Parliament, Office of the President and the private sector as well as the civil society,” said Alam.
Gaborone based World Bank Country Manager Constantine Chikosi stated that the bank does not only assist countries financially but also with sharing professional information for implementing projects.
He added that the bank is transparent and open with enhancing policies. Chikosi also echoed Alam’s words that the bank is in full support of the Morupule B plant which the bank has financed with over $136.4 million. He added that there is need to expand the power station in order to be power sufficient.
“The first four units are operating and the plant has huge four generators and it is expected to be fully operational early next year January,” said Chikosi.
He stated it is the biggest energy project that the bank has undertaken in Botswana and added that it is a multimillion project that will also save millions on energy for the country.
Alam is an economist by training and has worked in different regions of the world including Africa, Central Asia, East Asia, Europe and Latin America.
Alam initially worked as a country economist for several countries, and later as a sector manager for the macroeconomics, poverty reduction and gender unit in Europe and Central Asia. He is an Indian national.┬á He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Columbia University, USA and a B.Sc. in Economics from The London School of Economics and Political Science, UK.