Africa Enjoying Dynamic Growth but Challenges Remain


IMF Spring Meetings – 20 April 2013


African countries are focusing on improving their infrastructure and tackling unemployment to maintain their dynamic growth, said panelists at an IMF conference.

African finance ministers told reporters at the 2013 IMF-World Bank Spring Meetings that although Africa had weathered the crisis remarkably well, efforts needed to be undertaken to maintain solid inclusive growth.

Noting that Europe, Africa’s traditional trading partner, was still grappling with weak growth, ministers called for more regional integration, and greater trade amongst African countries to maintain dynamic growth in the continent.

Ministers also emphasized that Africa’s continued growth was based on sound policies including prudent fiscal and monetary policy, adequate foreign reserves and lower inflation.

They added that improving the business climate through more transparency and an easier access to information and statistics would facilitate the development of a strong private sector, which in turn would stimulate growth.

Nigeria’s Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala told a news conference in Washington that Nigeria had seen growth of around 6% this year, as well as a decrease of inflation to single digits. She added that reserves in Nigeria were at $50 billions, providing an adequate buffer for the country.

Comoros’ Finance Minister Ali Soilihi said that despite a more difficult global environment and a year of instable internal situation, growth in Comoros had picked up from 2.6 % to 3% this year.

He credited an increase in activities in the construction sector, a good harvest, the resilience of remittances from expatriates, and significant internal contributions from the banking and financial sectors.

Filling the infrastructure and energy gaps

Despite this bright outlook, ministers noted that challenges in infrastructure and energy needed to be addressed. Cameroon’s Finance Minister Alamine Ousmane Mey underlined that better infrastructure were needed to develop more efficient industries.

“In the case of Cameroon, we are building better roads and ports, and following up on project such as the Lom-Pangar dam to increase energy supplies in order to boost the creation of industrial centers,” said Mey.

He also added that creating better infrastructure would boost low-cost imports and exports, thus creating a strong domestic demand.

Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria said that better roads and transport system were crucial to achieve more regional integration.

Although South Sudan has been particularly affected by a severe lack of roads, the South Sudanese Minister Kosti Manibe Ngai pointed out that the government had taken steps to address the problem.

“We are planning on making major investments in infrastructure. We have plans to build a road that will start in Juba, and which will connect South Sudan to Uganda, “noted Ngai.

Stimulating employment

African countries still suffer from relatively high levels of unemployment, and particularly youth unemployment. Cameroon’s Minister Mey said that the issue of youth unemployment needed to be addressed by improving the business climate and facilitating the activities of the private sector.

“By improving the business climate, we can attract international and domestic investments that will create stable and long lasting jobs for our youth,” said Mey.

He also added that “the current emphasis on second generation agriculture is such that well educated young African populations can take advantage of this opportunity to find stable means of living, while producing enough foodstuffs for the region.”

Nigeria’s Minister Okonjo-Iweala pointed out that labor mobility was also a tool to ease unemployment. She urged African countries to create more labor enhancing policies that would facilitate the movement of skilled labor across countries.

Comoros’ Minister Soilihi stressed the importance of investments in education to create a well prepared labor force.

Improving security

South Sudan’s Minister Kosti Manibe pointed out that although there was insecurity in some regions of South Sudan, the country as a whole was safe. He added that the government would solve the remaining pockets of insecurities through sustained dialogue with the Yau Yau rebels.

Cameroon’s Minister Mey noted that security and peace in the Central African Republic was also a priority for the countries of Economic Community of Central African states (ECCA). He added that measures were underway to help the Central African Republic to return to stability.

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One Comment on “Africa Enjoying Dynamic Growth but Challenges Remain”

  1. nyalugwe April 21, 2013 at 7:49 am #

    Reblogged this on The African Farmer.

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