The International Monetary Fund has warned today, ahead of a two day response policy conference that is scheduled to effectively commence tomorrow (Tuesday 10th March, 2009) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, that a slow global economy, declining commodity prices, and tighter credit markets are seriously threatening Africa’s economies.
For this reason, according to the IMF, while Africa’s policy makers are rising to meet this unexpected challenge, the role of developed countries in keeping the fire burning in Africa, remains even more imperative like never before, thus, “they must maintain their commitments and scale up, not scale back their support.
Antoinette Sayeh, IMF’s African Department Director, pointed this out, on the eve of the high level IMF conference, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, which goes under the theme, “Changes; Successful Partnership’s for Africa’s growth Challenge.” She said, “The gains of the past decade, during which many countries, in Sub-Saharan Africa saw sustained high rates of economic growth and rising income levels, are at risk.”
In a new report entitled, “The Impact of the Global Financial Crisis on Sub-Saharan Africa” which was released today in Tanzania, the IMF stated that economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to slow to ┬¥ % in 2009 from 5% in 2008, half of what was expected a year ago.
Sayeh made the point that, African policy makers must balance two competing priorities; supporting domestic activity while maintaining macro-economic stability. In addition she mentioned that some countries on the one hand, have the space for fiscal easing and therefore it would only be proper that they responded by targeting the poor and putting in place social safety nets.
“There are those countries that unfortunately do have fiscal constraints and need to act carefully in order to protect their macro-economic gains,” posited the IMF official.
Highlighting her organization’s commitment to mounting what she described as an extra-ordinary response, said, “The IMF has already increased financial support to African countries, including under its new Exogenous Shock Facility and, we are stepping up technical assistance.”
According to the programme of the conference, the pre-lunch session will be split into three topics. These include, forging successful partnerships for Africa’s infrastructure, Managing commodity prices and stocks effectively and lastly, financial turmoil and Africa’s financial challenges.
The President of the Global Humanitarian Forum, and former Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan is set to officiate at the event.
Some of the key personalities that are expected to grace the occasion are, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Managing Director of the World Bank, President of the African Development Bank Group, Donald Kaberuka as well as Valentine Rugwabiza, Deputy Director General of the World Trade Organization.
Finance Ministers of several African countries such as South African Trevor Manuel, and Mozambican and Malawian, and Moroccan counterparts are scheduled to partake in the deliberations of the conference.
Yuan Chen, Chairman of the China Development Bank, China, also appear in the list of speakers.
With the common goal of renewed partnership for growth in Africa in the 21st Century, it is expected that the conference address policy questions relation to what the continent’s successes, tell the authorities about the main bottlenecks and risks to sustained growth and poverty reduction.
The other objective is to determine how best to tap into the potential of the private sector and the financial sector so as to advance the stipulated goals.
African leaders will also be expected to say if they are happy with the present model of financing development, and how it needs to adapt.
In this context, the IMF African Department Director, Sayeh, concluded, “The Conference will offer an opportunity to discuss what more we can do to reaffirm the IMF’s strong partnership with its African members during this difficult times.”
Thus, what should be the direction of Africa’s already evolving partnerships, including with the IMF?