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Africa and the IMF after Lagarde (African Business)

August 6, 2019

From the article:

"In 2000 the then managing director of the IMF, Horst Köhler, stepped off a plane into Nigeria’s capital Abuja for a five-country “coast-to-coast” tour of the continent. His mission was to decide whether the Fund should cease lending to African countries for long-term development assistance and pass the function to the World Bank. This was the recommendation of a 1998 US Congress report by the Meltzer Commission.

Along the way, African leaders in Nigeria, Senegal, Cameroon, Mozambique and South Africa urged him to continue the Fund’s presence.

Before becoming Liberia’s President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf insisted to Köhler that the Fund was much-needed in Africa, but it had to stop being SAD – secretive, arrogant and domineering.

Köhler became convinced that the continent was integral to the IMF’s two-fold mission: to provide global financial stability, and assist in the global war on poverty. He concluded: 'There cannot be a good future for the rich if there isn’t a better future for the poor.'

Ever since, Africa has played a prominent role in IMF lending based on the understanding that unemployment, famine and climate change have a spillover effect on Western countries, says Mark Plant, a former IMF staffer and the director of sustainable development finance at the Centre for Global Development.

The views of the outgoing managing director, Christine Lagarde, are no exception. 'Lagarde always had an eye for Africa… she understood Africa well,' Plant says.

'She continued the trends that started with her three predecessors of opening up the IMF to more African decision-making. That Africans should take charge of their destiny in some ways, and that the Fund should be supportive rather than dictatorial...'"

 

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Chief Operating Officer of CGD Europe, Director of Development Finance, and Senior Policy Fellow