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20.11.2008 Business & Finance

IMF Hosts Confab On Reforms In Africa

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) will assemble senior policy makers and stakeholders to learn from successful economic reforms in Africa, and to examine responses to its changing challenges on the continent.

The high level conference, which will take place on March 10 to 11 next year in Tanzania, will bring together over 300 high-level participants, combining finance ministers and central bankers from all over Africa with representatives of partner countries the world over, from global and regional private sectors, civil society, media, academics, and private foundations.

The conference aims to address key policy questions, with the common goal of forging a renewed partnership for growth in Africa in the 21st century.

Issues that will be looked at during the conference include what do Africa's successes tell us about the main bottlenecks and risks to sustained growth and poverty reduction? How best can countries tap into the potential of the private sector and the financial sector to advance these goals?

How can countries reduce the risks posed by exogenous shocks and a turbulent global economy and avoid the “resource curse”?

How does the model for financing development need to adapt? What should be the direction of Africa's already evolving partnerships, including its association with the IMF?

Lessons

Africa is changing and successes there and elsewhere can provide valuable lessons. For the first time in decades, many countries in sub-Saharan Africa have sustained high rates of economic growth and rising income levels.

Despite the global financial turmoil, food and fuel price shocks, growth has so far remained strong. The region's recent robust growth stems from several factors:

Global demand for commodities, greater flows of capital to Africa, and debt relief have helped increase resources and lift growth.

The sources of financing have grown in size and number, with growing roles for emerging market economies, private investors and non-governmental actors. Indeed, the private sector has played a critical role in African nations that have sustained growth.

Most important, a growing number of countries have put in place robust policy frameworks fostering stable, low-inflationary environments, with the support of the IMF and other partners. Helped by debt relief, countries are managing their debt levels judiciously.

Country ownership of these policies have sustained their success. Overall, this stability has been conducive to investment, growth and poverty reduction.

Challenges

Strong growth is critical for Africa to achieve its over-riding economic objectives of raising living standards and reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The successes in achieving growth in the region have to be maintained, accelerated and extended to all countries.

Countries need to use additional resources effectively to address pressing needs in infrastructure, agriculture, economic diversification, health and education, while safeguarding hard-won stability in the face of a turbulent global economy.

Capitalising on globalisation means both exploiting opportunities for growth and managing new and increasing risks.

The conference provides a forum to elaborate on Africa's evolving partnerships, including the role of the IMF and will build on the momentum of several international conferences.

Structure

The one-and-a-half day conference will have opening and closing plenary sessions focused on the themes of change, partnership, success and growth. Several breakout sessions that will examine key issues in more depth, reporting back to the plenary.

Participation in each session will be diverse, combining African policy makers with representatives of the private sector, academic community, civil society, and partner countries.

Each of the participants will offer their unique insight on the pressing economic challenges faced by the continent and how to address them.

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