As health organisations warn of a possible pandemic as a result of West Africa’s Ebola outbreak, African Development Bank Group President Donald Kaberuka called for more aid, stronger infrastructure and recovery for the hardest-hit nations. Using this week’s annual World Bank/International Monetary Fund meetings as a platform, Kaberuka said, “I am convinced Ebola will be contained in the current epicentre provided we use all the means at our disposal.”
In a series of high-level talks about debt reduction, borrowing policies and fiscal flexibility, Ebola took centre stage. Finance Ministers, Central Bankers and other top officials solidified plans to beat back the disease. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde gave approval for the hardest-hit nations, which include Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, to increase their fiscal deficits. "For once, just for once, it's absolutely fine,” she said. “There are circumstances where we are capable of revisiting traditional standards."
It is a move Kaberuka welcomed. If the economies of those fragile nations hit by Ebola are stressed even further, the AfDB President warned, things will only get worse. “What I fear most is the impact of panic psychosis on the part of investors” to these nations.
One way to stop the panic on the part of investors, tourists, health workers and everyone else is to stop the "doomsday scenarios," Kaberuka told Al Jazeera English television Thursday evening.
“For the international community to react [to Ebola] five months late is problematic,” the AfDB President said. But he added that the mismanagement of the disease cannot be the new narrative of Africa. During a talk at the Center for Global Development, Kaberuka told a packed room “Africa is not simply 54 countries. It is more complex.”
The continent is also more complex than the Ebola outbreak that has captured the world’s attention. Even though Kaberuka said that the initial response was “too slow, too little and too late,” he added that he remained optimistic that recovery is still a very realistic goal. “In spite of Ebola,” Kaberuka said, “I am bullish on Africa because the fundamentals are strong.”
The World Bank/International Monetary Fund meetings will continue through the weekend.