World Bank to open office in Seychelles |22 March 2023
• Mission discusses new partnership framework, which ends on June 30
By Patsy Canaya
The World Bank will be opening an office in Seychelles before the end of its calendar year on June 30, 2023.
The announcement was made yesterday afternoon by the World Bank country director, Idah Pswarayi-Riddihough, after her courtesy call on President Wavel Ramkalawan at State House, which also concluded her mission to Seychelles.
Speaking to local media, Ms Pswarayi-Riddihough, said the World Bank was quite keen and ready to open the office to “help us keep a much smoother dialogue, hear what the Seychelles government would like, hear the private sector industry, really open the conversation to all sorts of stakeholders in Seychelles and then be able to answer in a much more easy and flexible manner”.
She added that having an office in country also allows the international organisation to better listen, understand local issues and in return better help and adjust their plan into the local context.
“Why we do have offices in country is to make sure whatever results we may come out of , even experiences from overseas, ultimately they are contextualized into the Seychelles,” she explained.
Ms Pswarayi-Riddihough said they plan to start with a very small office, which will be managed by a Seychellois official, whom they hope would eventually have a career with the World Bank, that will even bring Seychelles closer to what they are doing in the bank.
Other than plan to open a country office, the head of state and the World Bank country director’s discussion also focused on the partnership framework between Seychelles and the World Bank, which ends on June 30.
Ms Pswarayi-Riddihough said the two sides were starting discussions to see what can be done, “how do we re-define the relationship if it needs to be or how do we continue”.
Yesterday’s meeting was also to highlight some key activities presently being undertaken in Seychelles and according to her some that are important include the social protection programme, teenage pregnancy and how to keep both young boys and girls in school.
She explained that due to Covid-19, a lot of children dropped out of school, and there should be ways to assist them, and ensure they continue to be a very productive group.
With regard to teenage pregnancy, Ms Pswarayi-Riddihough said that the World Bank was doing some deep dive to understand what the factors and drivers of teenage pregnancy are in Seychelles, as these vary for countries, as well as why they opt not to go back to school after falling pregnant, meaning they are lost from the workforce completely.
“We are looking at what are the kind of policies or even changes that could be made to keep children in school, to entice them to continue to work. So one is making it a point that when children drop out they can actually go back to school, make it easier for them to go back to school,” said the World Bank country director.
Another point that was raised was the difference between the age of consent, which is 15 and the age of access to contraceptives in Seychelles, which is 18 years old.
“This a gap that frankly makes it exceedingly difficult for Seychelles to manage the issue unless this is brought together in a way that actually follows a lot of the international thinking today, which is children when they get to the age of puberty you need to teach them about contraception. They should have access when needed, to reduce teenage pregnancies. And when it then links with challenges with drugs or challenges with alcohol, you know children experiment, this is not unusual, this is not just a Seychellois thing. The question is how you make sure that you pull them out of that space and they become productive,” she added.
During her courtesy call on President Ramkalawan, Ms Pswarayi-Riddihough and the head of state also discussed how to further develop and enhance the small scale agriculture in Seychelles; which was a point of discussion at their previous encounter. “Can you get more produce which is a little bit smoother and more throughout the year, better quality so it is actually attractive to people to be able to buy in the tourism industry,” she explained.
Issues of tourism and fisheries were also tabled.
Ms Pswarayi-Riddihough, was accompanied to State House by the World Bank Acting country representative, Brinda Dabysing, the Minister for Finance, National Planning and Trade, Naadir Hassan and the Central Bank Governor, Caroline Abel.
Other than Seychelles, Ms Pswarayi-Riddihough, is the country director for Mozambique, Madagascar, Mauritius and Comoros.