Washington, April 23, 2009 – The President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Donald Kaberuka, has warned that the current global economic crisis cannot be tackled effectively if adequate funds are not extended to Africa to cushion the effects of the shocks.
Speaking at a news conference at the Spring Meetings of the World Bank/IMF on Thursday, April 23, 2009, in Washington, President Kaberuka said that the world could not afford to ignore a continent representing 20% of the world’s population in the global efforts to tackle the economic crisis.
"You cannot simply ignore an entire continent...The figures we're talking about for one billion people are a fraction of the money we're dumping into our own system," emphasized Bob Geldof at the press conference, held in the IMF headquarters.
President Kaberuka recalled that though Africa was not facing a credit crisis, it was badly hit by the global economic downturn. "For us, this is not a financial crisis: we're not having a banking crisis, we're having an economic crisis. It's affecting countries through exports, through remittances and through neighbourhood effects," he said.
The current economic and financial crisis affects all the drivers of African growth, he added: prices and demand for primary commodities, capital flows, Diaspora remittances and foreign direct investment and regional integration, especially in low-income countries and fragile states.
President Kaberuka noted that the crisis threatens to reverse policy reform gains and undermines efforts for poverty reduction, especially in low-income countries and fragile states.
"Allowing the poorest nations, with burgeoning democracies, to bear the brunt of the economic crisis is putting at risk all the progress that was made in the last 10 to 15 years,” emphasized US Congressman Gregory Meeks, Chair of the Subcommittee on international monetary policy and trade, taking part in the press conference with President Kaberuka, Bob Geldof, Tanzania’s Minister of Finance Mustafa Mkulo.
Speaking in the same vein, Tanzania Finance Minister, Mustafa Mkulo, said that "there is urgent need for the international finance institutions to increase concessional and exogenous shock facilities to low income countries and reduce conditionality to access facilites”.
President Kaberuka declared that the African Development Bank had revised its growth prospects for Africa as a whole down to 3%. “While an economic recession in a developed nation results in increased social spending, a recession in a typical African nation results in increased poverty, disease, malnutrition, and death”, he stressed.
He noted that Africa’s voice had been heard at the G-20 Summit held recently in London which has taken into consideration some of the continent’s concerns such as the IMF gold sales, but he stressed that this was not enough to prevent a whole continent from falling back into a negative cycle.
In order to help the poorest countries cushion the effects of the crisis, he called for an early replenishment of the World Bank’s and AfDB's concessional windows – targeting the poorest countries.
He recalled that the African Development Bank had warned last year that the crisis would hit Africa hard. The AfDB, jointly with UN Economic Commission for Africa and the African Union, he said, convened a conference of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in Tunis in November 2008 to discuss the impacts of the crisis and possible solutions for Africa. The Conference mandated a Committee to monitor the crisis and promote Africa’s voice in the global arena, helping articulate an African position in the G-20 deliberations in London.