Never before was the need for a strengthened and unified African voice on key economic policies so crucial than when the financial and economic crisis hit.
Clearly, the issue of a stronger African voice in global policy debates is not new. But when Africa was hit very hard by a crisis it did not create, its stakes in international policy debates and decision-making increased markedly, particularly in issues of global economic governance.
At this important juncture, the African Development Bank (AfDB) together with the AUC and UNECA stepped in to provide the knowledge and analytical support needed to effectively engage the continent on these issues.
The continuous monitoring of the crisis and timely analysis of its impacts on regional member countries laid a solid foundation for tailored responses from several fronts: policy and operational responses by the AfDB to the growing financing needs of the countries; policy and counter-cyclical responses of the African countries; and the collective and strategic response of the continent as it sought to engage more proactively in articulating its interests on global financial regulations.
This effective engagement of the AfDB and other pan-African institutions led to the creation of the Committee of Ten African Ministers of Finance and Central Bank Governors (C-10), one of the outcomes of the Tunis Conference in late 2008. Soon after its creation the C-10 became instrumental in the following areas:
- Monitoring the impact of the global crisis on Africa;
- Identifying strategic economic priorities for the continent; and
- Advocating enhanced African participation in governance of international financial institutions (IFIs) and developing a strategy for engagement with G-20.
Now that Africa has been rebounding, the February 2010 meeting of the C-10 in Cape Town shifted its focus from crisis responses to policies that would ease the continent’s recovery and medium term growth. Having played a key role in supporting and facilitating Africa’s responses to the crisis, the AfDB emerged as the institution of choice for hosting the C10 Secretariat for this expanded new role of the committee.
Building on its achievements during the crisis, the C-10 still has a plethora of issues for the future agenda, including the following:
- Ensuring orderly, gradual and coordinated exits from stimulus policies to help make the continent’s recovery robust and achieve high long-term growth.
- Finding additional resources for adaptation to and mitigation of the climate change in Africa. Support in this area cannot crowd out other development needs.
- Continuing to strengthen Africa’s voice in the international economic fora and putting development challenges firmly on the global economic policy agenda.
On this last point, the continent is ready to fully participate in further discussions on voice and representation reforms in the IFIs. Ensuring Africa’s continued representation – beyond that of South Africa – in the future G-20 meetings is among the areas of concern. Only a global partnership with strong African voice can help the continent realize its full potential and effectively meet the challenges of the 21st century.