AFRITAC Pledging Conference Takes Place in Tunis

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Date: 11/12/2009
Location: Tunis

Tunis, 11 December 2009 – The pledging conference for the third phase of the “Africa Regional Technical Assistance Centers (AFRITACs) Initiative” jointly hosted by the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) took place on December 11, 2009, in Tunis. Donors and recipient countries have expressed their support to AFRITAC’s expansion to all Sub-Saharan African countries for a five-year period (2010-2014). Speaking during the event, the IMF Deputy Managing Director, Murilo Portugal, said “we have received very substantial pledges of financial support for AFRITACs”.

“The AfDB has been a key supporter and partner of the AFRITAC initiative. The global economic and financial crisis, continued vulnerabilities of African countries, make the policy advice and technical assistance provided through AFRITAC even more relevant today,” the AfDB President, Donald Kaberuka, said. However, greater coordination and coherence is requested between AFRITACs and other capacity-building initiatives, such as the AfDB’s African Development Institute.

The rationale for continued AfDB support to and engagement with AFRITAC is based on four main considerations: the relevance to Africa’s development challenges within the context of the global economic crisis; the added value of the Bank's continued engagement as a pivotal regional partner; the Bank's ability to leverage additional resources by working with and through AFRITAC; and the relevance to the Bank’s increased work on economic governance and public financial management.

AFRITAC is a collaborative initiative between the IMF, African countries and development partners to provide technical assistance and strengthen institutional capacity in African countries in the area of economic and financial governance. It originated from a response to a call by African leaders to the international community to increase technical assistance to Africa and to focus such assistance more sharply on capacity building.

Since its launch in 2002 by the IMF, three regional technical assistance centers have been established: one serving seven East African countries, based in Dar Es-Salaam, Tanzania; one for West African French-speaking countries serving ten countries based in Bamako, Mali; and a third center serving eight countries, based in Libreville, Gabon. Two new centers will be established in West and Southern Africa.

AFRITACs' assistance has been critical to rationalizing public finances and reducing poverty in Africa, including debt management, revenue management and tax reform. This assistance is relevant to all AfDB regional member countries, including middle-income countries, which are affected by the global economic downturn and which have embarked on reforms. “A common approach to capacity building will help the region move in sync and better understand the dynamics of integration. It will also embed regional issues in national policy-making to the extent that regional policies are basically implemented at the national level,” said the Mauritius vice Prime Minister/Minister of Finance and Economic Empowerment, Rama Krishna Sithanen. African dignitaries from Cameroon, Ghana, Malawi, Mali and Tanzania equally attended the event.    

The AfDB has been supporting AFRITAC since its inception.  The Bank has contributed a total of US$ 7.5 million to AFRITACs. This includes US$3 million (ADF) for phase I (2002-2005) which established two pilot centres in East and West Africa, and US$ 4.5 million (ADF) approved in November 2006 to cover the second phase (2007-2009) which supported the establishment of East AFRITAC (Tanzania), West AFRITAC(Mali) and Central AFRITAC (Gabon).  These contributions represent 10-11% of the total costs, respectively.

The Bank’s increased engagement in the area of economic governance and public financial management enhances AFRITAC’s relevance to the Bank. Adopted in 2008, the Bank’s Governance Strategic Directions and Action Plan for 2008-2012 focuses the Bank’s governance agenda on the improvement of economic governance and the strengthening of public financial management.

There are potent complementarities and synergies between AFRITACs’ technical assistance and the Bank’s support thought policy-based lending and institutional strengthening projects, including in new areas of bank engagement such as debt management and tax reform.

Furthermore, AFRITAC’s technical assistance will help inform the Bank’s policy dialogue with its regional member countries and help improve the quality at entry of Bank operations, including budget support. By developing genuine partnership with AFRITAC, the Bank will continue to have an effective, additional instrument to assist its regional member countries.