Africa’s social and economic gains of the last decade are seriously threatened due to the global financial and economic crisis. The projected economic growth of less than 2 percent in 2009 (October updates) implies declining per capita incomes, with millions of Africans falling back into extreme poverty. For most African countries, the challenge is both preventing further collapse in growth and gearing up for recovery. Africa’s recent impressive economic performance has benefited from high commodity prices and reforms that addressed some of the internal structural constraints. Going forward, sustaining these reforms will be a challenge, as governments face deteriorating fiscal space. However, pressing on with the reform agenda holds the greatest promise to sustaining growth and poverty reduction in the medium term.

In response, the Bank, the Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), and other regional and international development partners have quickly moved in scaling up their resource flows and technical and capacity building activities to support African countries. Specifically, the Bank and UNECA have played an important role in mobilizing dialogue in search of appropriate responses to the global financial crisis. Such efforts need to be supported by analytical work at the Bank and UNECA while also leveraging ongoing work and existing expertise in academia and think tanks in and outside Africa.

The Bank launched the annual African Economic Conference (AEC) in November 2006. Since 2007, the Bank and the UNECA have jointly organized the AEC. The fourth edition of the AEC is planned to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 11 to 13 November 2009.