WORLD BANK WEEKLY UPDATE REGIONAL NEWS AND PROJECTS For a summary of proposed projects in all regions March 17 List of Newly Disclosed Documents AFRICA Support for Liberia’s Decision Point for Debt Relief The Bank’s International Development Association and the International Monetary Fund have agreed that Liberia has taken the steps necessary to reach its decision point under the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. Liberia becomes the 33rd country to reach its decision point and now qualifies for debt relief under the Initiative. Read more... Findings on Investment Climate in Southern Africa Despite being forced to compete with their economically powerful neighbour South Africa, the investment climate in Namibia, Botswana and Swaziland appears to be faring well, according to the results of the latest Investment Climate Assessment conducted in each of the three countries. Read more... Bank and Gabon in Active Partnership The Bank’s Country Manager for Gabon recently fielded questions from the local press regarding the major concerns of Gabonese citizens and addressed the ongoing problems associated with the institution’s mission, including poverty reduction. Olivier Frémond also reviewed the Bank's activities in 2007 as well as the various initiatives of the Bank's new President for 2008 and beyond. Read more... Approved DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO – High-Priority Roads Reopening and Maintenance Project - US$50 million to re-establish lasting access between provincial capitals and districts and territories in three provinces in a way that is sustainable for people and the natural environment in the area. Read more... For more regional information: http://www.worldbank.org/afr NORTH AFRICA Approved EGYPT - Integrated Sanitation and Sewerage Infrastructure Project - US$120 million to contribute to the sustainable improvement in: sanitation and environmental conditions and the water quality in the selected drainage basins within targeted communities in the Governorates of Beheira, Gharbeya and Kafr El Sheikh in the Delta region. Read more... YEMEN - Secondary Education Development and Girls Access Project - USD$20 million to improve gender equity, quality, and efficiency of secondary education in selected districts in Yemen with a particular focus on girls in rural areas. The program will have four components: improving equity and reducing gender gaps through demand and supply-side interventions; enhancing the quality of service delivery; supporting Secondary Education Policy Development; and project management and monitoring. Read more... For more regional information: http://www.worldbank.org/mena SOUTH ASIA Developing Private-Public Partnerships for Education in Pakistan With limited economic opportunities, lagging social indicators, and large gender gaps, Balochistan is the poorest of Pakistan’s four provinces. The challenges of internal strife are exacerbated by the tense situation on Pakistan’s western border. Read more... Approved INDIA - Fourth Power System Development Project - US$600 million to further facilitate and strengthen the transmission system in order to increase reliable power exchanges between the regions and states of India. The project is designed to focus on strengthening the transmission system in the power deficit regions and increasing inter-regional transmission capacity, and developing the institutional capacity of POWERGRID to facilitate the implementation of open access and inter-regional trading. Read more... For more regional information: http://www.worldbank.org/sar NEW DOCUMENTS Every week, the World Bank releases operational documents which can be downloaded from the web or ordered as hard copies from the InfoShop. Click here. PROCUREMENT Supplying Directly to the World Bank - Corporate Procurement Bidding Opportunities Requests for Expressions of Interest for consultants hired directly by the World Bank for its operational work. IADB procurement information - Policies, Goods, Works and Consultants. NEWS The IMF and the World Bank on March 18 cleared Liberia's entry into the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, a vital step toward canceling the country's USD 4.7 billion debts and helping it rebuild from civil war. The IMF's No. 2 official, John Lipsky, said the debt, owed to global institutions, other governments and private-sector creditors, was "simply unpayable and has to be forgiven." The March 18 announcement is a vital step toward hoisting Liberia back into the international arena after its 14-year war and isolation. Earlier this week, the IMF restored Liberia's voting rights after it cleared its arrears to the fund. Boosting Returns for Carbon Credits in Africa and South Asia The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has signed its first carbon delivery guarantee agreements in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The agreement is expected to give companies selling carbon credits the chance to access a wider range of potential buyers by mitigating country and project risk, and it therefore helps to boost the carbon market in these regions. Read more...