Two to Tango: An Evaluation of World Bank Group Support to Fostering Regional Integration

Published by: 
Independent Evaluation Group (IEG), World Bank Group
Publication Date: 
May, 2019

Document Type:

Client countries of the World Bank Group have turned to regional integration as one of the pathways toward faster economic development and peace, and to help overcome development challenges.

The World Bank Group fosters regional integration, playing three overlapping roles:

  • enabling clients through advisory and analytical work,
  • financing projects through policy and investment loans, and
  • convening state and nonstate actors for coordination and collective actions.

This evaluation applied three sets of methods to gather the evidence related to the Bank Group’s effectiveness, including: (1) Portfolio review and analysis of a stratified sample of regional integration interventions; (2) Regional case studies in East Africa, Central Asia, and South Asia based on the intensity (high or low) of Bank Group regional integration activities; and (3) Econometric analysis on the macroeconomic effects of Bank Group support, construction of a regional integration index, and a data-envelopment analysis to identify frontier regions and subregions with the most potential for regional integration.

Main Findings

Overall, the Bank Group’s efforts to foster regional integration have led to mostly positive development outcomes in the Sub-Saharan Africa Region and in infrastructure sectors. Bank Group regional integration efforts in other regions and sectors have been sporadic and not prioritized according to regional needs or client demand.

Though the IDA Regional Window program has also contributed to regional integration (mainly in the Africa Region), the development outcomes of its interventions are not significantly different from similar projects co-financed outside the program.