Africa will have a “stronger voice” at the IMF (Georgieva)

by MMC
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Sub-Saharan Africa will have “a stronger voice” at the International Monetary Fund as it gets a third seat on the global lender’s board, IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva told AFP correspondent Pierre Donadieu.

Georgieva announced the news ahead of next week’s IMF and World Bank meetings in Marrakech, Morocco – the first gathering on the continent since 1973.

The IMF board, chaired by Georgieva, is responsible for running the day-to-day affairs of the Washington-based institution and currently has 24 directors.

The United States, as the world’s largest economy, holds the largest share of votes, followed by economic powerhouses Japan, China and Western Europe, ahead of other regions and developing countries.

“I have good news for Africa. We are moving forward with preparations to have a third representative from sub-Saharan Africa on our board,” Georgieva told AFP on Thursday in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. “Ultimately, this will mean (a ) stronger voice for Africa,” added the IMF Managing Director.

The World Bank also announced it would create a third seat for African countries on its own board, a move that will be formalized at meetings Oct. 9-15 in Marrakech.

The IMF and World Bank will tackle the thorny issue of institutional reform in Morocco as they face growing calls to better tackle debt and climate change in poorer countries.

– ‘Brighter prospects’ –

Georgieva said growth in sub-Saharan Africa had decelerated this year to three percent. “The impact of the war (in Ukraine) has been devastating, especially on top of Covid,” she said. “Countries with limited fiscal capacity have been particularly affected. »

Inflation, which soared following Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine, caused “additional difficulties for the population”, Georgieva added.

Moscow’s invasion caused food prices to skyrocket, with Russia and Ukraine being major exporters of agricultural products.

Georgieva praised countries “for being very careful in their management of inflation”, which has fallen in many countries, and for prioritizing public spending in a way that allowed them to reduce deficits.

“We expect brighter prospects for sub-Saharan Africa in 2024,” said the Bulgarian economist and former vice-president of the European Commission.

“But it’s hard. We continue to see that food prices are particularly high and this translates into the terrible plight of 144 million people who have difficulty feeding themselves or their families,” she said, warning of measures such as price capping or fuel subsidies to help people cope. with inflation because they “ultimately benefit the rich even more than the poor.”

“What we want is for countries to win the fight against inflation,” Georgieva said. “That won’t happen if we spend more money without having the right fundamentals for the economy to operate efficiently,” she added. Instead of subsidies, she said, “what we strongly recommend is… providing direct support to the poorest sections of the population.”

Although the IMF has continued to provide special assistance since the start of the Covid pandemic, including through zero-interest loans, it said it would ask nations and the private sector to “do more” to help developing countries.

– ‘Lost decoration’ –

The World Bank warned in a report Wednesday that sub-Saharan Africa’s economic outlook “remains bleak.”

The institution warned that the region could face “a decade of lost growth”, highlighting “increasing instability”, with “an increased frequency of attempts to destabilize governments through unconstitutional or violent means in recent years”.

The Sahel region in particular has been the scene for more than a decade of a jihadist insurgency which has fueled military takeovers in Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso. Despite the coups, Georgieva defended the IMF’s decision to maintain aid to these countries due to “humanitarian concerns.”

“We have a responsibility to ensure that there is a minimum financial capacity,” she said. “Because the regimes are not there enough for their people. This is not an excuse to forget the men and women who need us.

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