Kaberuka holds series of meetings to discuss Ebola strategy

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Washington ­– When it comes to Sub-Saharan Africa, a top International Monetary Fund official said Friday that the overall picture for the region looks good, and it is a trend African Development Bank Group President Donald Kaberuka wants to continue.

Antoinette Sayeh, head of the Africa Department at the IMF, said “We expect the region and the region’s economy to expand by five percent this year, 2014, and to go up to five and three quarters percent in 2015.” Speaking at the annual IMF and World Bank meetings in Washington, DC, she added that with strong activity in the region’s low-income nations, “Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to continue being the second fastest growing region in the world.”

But, Sayeh said, this positive news coexists with the dire situation in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone ­– the three West African nations hit hardest by the Ebola outbreak. The health crisis is close to Kaberuka, and the issue is one he has focused on during this week’s meetings.

He spent much of Friday’s IMF/WB meetings, where finance ministers, central bankers and other top officials are gathering, behind closed doors in high-level sessions. Talking face to face with Liberia’s Minister of Planning and Economic Affairs, Algeria’s Finance Minister, officials from Rwanda, Somalia and other nations, Kaberuka promoted strategies for economic development and cooperation between nations with a goal of defeating Ebola.

Kaberuka’s move to focus his day on development and collaboration strategies between nations is key given the negative economic spillover IMF officials say is happening across Africa due to Ebola.

“Heavily tourist-reliant Gambia and to some extent Senegal have seen a number of booking cancellations in their tourism industry,” Sayeh said. “Some other regional transportation hubs, perhaps Ghana and perhaps Kenya, may also see transitory declines in airline and hotel activity,” she added.

But the AfDB President has maintained all week that the Ebola outbreak does not have to derail the booming progress taking place across Africa’s 54 nations. He continues to push forward the message that with greater help from the international community, the three economically poor nations where the outbreak is raging can be healed.

The idea of the rich aiding the poor is something IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde highlighted Friday saying, “2015 is shaping up to be a make-or-break year.

“If we miss this chance, then we are failing the world's poorest people, the generations to come, and the planet."