News Analysis: Sub-Saharan Africa displays strong economic gains while challenges remain
MAPUTO, May 30 (Xinhua) -- The managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde, on Thursday praised the Sub-Saharan Africa has been "growing strongly and steadily" for nearly two decades in Maputo, while pointing out that the continent still faces challenges forward.
The Africa Rising conference, held by the IMF and the Mozambican government, opened on Thursday in the country's capital city, with more than 300 participants from the African policy makers and beyond, the private sector, civil society, academics, and private foundations.
Much of Sub-Saharan Africa has proven to be extraordinarily resilient to the 2007-2008 global financial crisis. Growth in the region slowed to 3.6 percent in 2009, but quickly recovered to over 5.5 percent in the sub sequent years.
Like Lagarde said in her opening speech, "Sub-Saharan Africa is clearly taking off," and its economic stability has paid off, with more than two-thirds of the countries in the region have enjoyed ten or more years of uninterrupted growth.
The conference is a follow-up on the 2009 Tanzania Conference, which helped galvanize international support for Africa after the 2008 financial crisis.
The 2009 Tanzania Conference was held against the backdrop of global financial and economic crisis. Five years later, much of Sub-Saharan Africa has demonstrated remarkable resilience thanks to progress on economic reforms over the previous decade. The region quickly bounced back from the global slowdown, and several countries have grown rapidly, including Mozambique.
Mozambican minister of Finance, Manuel Chang said that because of prudent macroeconomic policies, Mozambique has managed to minimize the impact of the crisis but needs to improve macroeconomic management tools mainly in inclusive strategic planning.
"Recent events with particular impact on our still dependent economy demand us to adopt the best policies and strategies for continuous adjustments of the tools to minimize and avoid crisis, among them there are the financial management instruments in our countries and constant adjustment of our economic structure to take better advantages of the opportunities rising from the crisis, " said Chang.
A parallel panel session in the conference discussed the theme "Harnessing Africa's natural resources for the benefit of current and future generations," taking in point that a rising number of countries are joining the ranks of natural resource exporters, a development that offers tremendous opportunities, but also many risks.
Enormous challenges remain in managing these flows in often weak institutional and governance environments. Macroeconomic strains include competitiveness problems stemming from appreciating real exchange rates, narrow tax bases, and exposure to volatile commodity markets.
Furthermore, the benefits of Sub-Saharan Africa's sustained growth have not always been shared across populations, employment growth has been less rapid than hoped, and poverty remains high in many countries.
An important policy challenge is therefore to foster inclusive growth and accelerate poverty reduction. Also to take in mind was that many domestic financial markets remain shallow, and access to credit remains difficult, particularly for the poor.
The IMF conference also indicated that, for low-and-middle income countries in the region, the key challenge in reducing poverty is to maintain high growth going forward, while boosting job creation and accelerating structural transformation in the context of pervasive informality and the predominantly rural nature of poverty.
But for others, notably the fragile states, the first priority remains to establish sufficient political and economic stability to join the ranks of the "African Lions."