IMF boss reiterates commitment to Africa
Says economic shocks not peculiar to the continent
Speaking at the weekend, as part of the events lined up for the World Bank Group and IMF annual meeting (2015) in Lima, Peru, IMF Managing Director, Ms. Christine Lagarde, declared that contrary to belief that the continent is always on the wrong end of the stick in the fund’s scheme of things, Africa has indeed benefitted immensely form the IMF interventions. She said the global average of four percent growth is largely owed to the continent.
According to Lagarde, “I think that what we are seeing in terms of changes in the continent, in terms of reforms, and even in terms of performance, pure economic performance, is not end of the stick.
Sub-Saharan Africa is still the second fastest growing region in the world, and the average four percent owes a lot to some of the sub-Saharan African countries.”
The IMF boss in her reaction to The Guardian, contended: “it is a case that with the over 50 countries on the continent, eight of them are oil producers, and therefore suffer like all oil producers around the world from declining revenue of the state, and from reduced growth. That is as a result of low oil prices, in particular, and it is affecting all oil producers, not only Africa. It is also much felt in a country like Columbia, much felt by the Middles East oil producing countries, also felt by Russia, Norway, Canada and a whole lots of them are also bearing the brunt of that price change.”
Scores of international economic development experts have been worried that many years after participation in various international economic and development initiatives the continent is still host to the first ten world’s poorest countries.
Flanked by the fund’s first deputy Managing Director, David Lipton, and Director, Communication Department, Gerry Rice, Lagarde, apparently distancing the IMF from culpability in perpetuation of the situation stressed that there are at least 20 IMF programmes in the continent. She said, “Some of them are with finances and others without financing. African policymakers wanted us to be with them to make policy recommendation, to monitor the policies that they have decided to apply for their country. And, I hope that his has helped and will continue to help when needed. We have entirely replenished the PRGT (Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust), which is intended to finance low income countries which are predominantly on the African continent.
“And as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we have actually delivered by increasing by 50 percent access to financing for the low income countries, and by maintaining the zero percent interest rate for low income borrowers as well as those countries that are regarded as fragile states. And I think that is the focus that we willcontinue to have for those that need our help and support.”
This effort must have informed the opening of IMF training centres on the continent in order to bring the activities and programmes closer hole to African partners. Before then, African related issues were taken to Washington DC or the Middles East.
As part of the Initiative, five African Regional Technical Assistance Centers (AFRITACs) have been established. AFRITAC East was opened in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in 2002, and now serves seven countries in East Africa (Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda). AFRITAC West—which opened in Bamako, Mali, in 2003 and moved to Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, in mid-2012—serves ten countries in West Africa (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, and Togo). AFRITAC Central was opened in Libreville, Gabon, in 2007, to serve countries in the CEMAC group (Gabon, Cameroon, Chad, Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, and Equatorial Guinea), plus Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. AFRITAC South, based in Ebene, Mauritius, was opened in June 2011, to serve 13 countries in Southern Africa (Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe). AFRITAC West II, based in Accra, Ghana, started operations in December 2013, covering the non-francophone countries from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) of Cape Verde, The Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.
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