Interview with Professor John C. Anyanwu, AfDB Lead Research Economist

12/11/2009
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John-C-Anyanwu

“Apart from developing research, internally the outcome of the AEC is feeding into operations project… and hence contributing in achieving AfDB’s key mandate and vision… I expect the conference to come out with concrete strategies for renewing and sustaining Africa’s long-term growth and development momentum,” Professor John C. Anyanwu, AfDB Lead Research Economist, explained .

Question: What would you respond to an observer saying “This is another useless African conference?”

Answer: He ought not to have come. In my view, such a conference is worthwhile. It is a meaningful investment by the African Development Bank in that it has helped to raise the visibility of the Bank and enabling the Bank to be seen as the unique African voice on Africa’s development issues. In addition, the AEC is helping to generate and share development knowledge necessary for policy interventions in African countries. Apart from developing research and training capacity in Africa, internally the outcome of the AEC is feeding into operations project and program identification and implementation and hence contributing in achieving the Bank’s key mandate and vision, namely, reducing poverty in its regional member countries.

Question: What are your expectations of this African Economic Conference?

Answer: The AEC has become an annual event since 2006. This year’s conference is different and unique in both its theme and importance for the African continent and its citizens in the light of the impact of the financial and economic crises on Africa.

My expectations of this conference can be summarized as follows. First, through the debates and exchanges, we should be able to concretely identify the specific channels of the impact not only on the continent as a whole but on a specific group of countries with peculiar characteristics such as resource–rich, non-resource-rich, middle-income, low-income, landlocked countries, and fragile and post-conflict countries. Second, we should be able to understand the actual impact on specific African countries using case studies, enabling us to draw important lessons going forward.

Third, based on the identified channels and impact, we should be able to fully identify the correct and timely responses to reverse the negative impact of the crises on African economies. In particular, we have to chart the course for tackling the most worrisome aspect of the economic crisis - job market crisis - which is reversing the gains made in the reduction of poverty and income inequality on the continent as well as further jeopardizing the attainment of the MDGs by 2015. Fourth, I expect the conference to come out with concrete strategies for renewing and sustaining Africa’s long-term growth and development momentum. Related to this is the need to come out with strategies to prevent the adverse impact of such future crises. This has become all the more important given that another set of crises is imminent, namely; fuel, debt, and food crises.