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Since adopting its new country engagement model in 2014, the Bank has commenced with the process of developing Country Partnership Frameworks in a number of MENA countries, including Egypt and Tunisia. As was referenced in an earlier BIC update, the Bank had initially launched the process for developing CPFs in those two countries as well as Yemen with an expectation that drafts be finalized within 2015. However each country has taken a slightly different path than originally expected.
We recently learned that the Bank plans to introduce major modifications to Egypt’s CPF draft which was originally developed with input sought in consultations over two phases in Cairo, Alexandria, and Aswan. However, the rewriting has not yet been announced formally and it is not entirely clear how much of the draft will change or how this will impact the timeline for the CPF finalization. A lingering question is whether or not there will be another round of consultations on the new draft; this would be a critical part of the process, not only to seek input but also to build or maintain stakeholder buy-in and trust in the CPF.
In Tunisia the process has seen delays, especially with the change of Country Director for the Maghreb. Stakeholder consultations were initially planned to take place in April, then deferred to May, and the latest information is that consultations will begin in June. With the new Country Director slated to start her position in July though, it is unclear if we’ll see consultations being postponed again. It is concerning that there is no information about the CPF process in Tunisia either on the Bank’s country webpage or on the Bank’s consultation hub, making it a guessing game for those wishing to be involved in the process. In addition, as is the case in several of the Bank’s countries of operation where the new country engagement model is being launched, there has been a lack of clarity over whether or not the Systematic Country Diagnostic (SCD) – an integral initial part of the CPF process – must be consulted on. Staff responsible for writing the Bank’s policies have assured us that SCD consultations are indeed mandatory, while we have asked that that policy be made clear to all country offices to avoid confusion moving forward.
Moving on to Yemen, following the deterioration of the political situation, the World Bank announced in March 2015 that it has suspended all operations in the country. The CPF process had never formally begun there, but while the office is closed, we expect the Bank to prepare some of the analytical work to feed into an SCD. We should not be surprised if, once the situation allows, the Bank re-engages in Yemen with a Country Engagement Note (CEN). A CEN is a shorter-term version of a CPF (one to two years as opposed to four to six) produced when the Bank is unable to develop a medium term program – often the case in countries coming out of conflict.